If you’ve had a vision screening recently, you might think, “My vision is fine! I don’t need a comprehensive eye exam.”
But a vision screening provides a very limited perspective on the overall health of your eyes. It’s a bit like getting your blood pressure checked and not getting the rest of your annual physical. You’ll have some useful information, but it’s not the whole picture.
Vision screenings typically only test your ability to see clearly in the distance. This is called visual acuity and is just one component of your overall vision. Others include color vision, peripheral vision, and depth perception. The screening also doesn’t evaluate how well the eyes focus up close or work together. Most significantly, a vision screening doesn’t give any information about the health of the eyes.
Vision screenings are usually conducted by individuals not trained in eye health.
Vision screenings are offered in many places – schools, health fairs, as part of a work physical or for a driver’s license. Even if your primary care doctor conducts the screening, they are a generalist with typically limited eye health training. Most individuals don’t have the tools or knowledge to give you a complete assessment of your vision or eye health.
Vision screenings use inadequate testing equipment.
In some cases, a vision screening is limited to an eye chart across the room. Even when conducted in a physician's office, that office will lack the extensive testing equipment of an eye doctor. They may also be less versed in the nuances such as room illumination and testing distances, all of which are factors that can affect test results.
Comprehensive eye exams evaluate all aspects of your vision and eye health.
The comprehensive eye exam looks at your eye externally and internally for any signs of eye disease, then tests your vision in a variety of ways.
· External Exam – This is an evaluation of the whites of your eyes, the iris, pupil, eyelids, and eyelashes.
· Internal Exam – This is an evaluation of the retina and optic nerve while your eyes are dilated.
· Visual Function and Eye Health – This includes testing depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision, and the response of the pupils to light, as well as an evaluation of eye focusing, eye teaming, and eye movement abilities.
· Glaucoma Testing – This is a measurement of internal fluid pressure within your eyes to assess risk for glaucoma.
· Refraction – Dr. Bainbridge will test your vision with different lenses to determine if glasses or contact lenses can improve your vision.
Comprehensive eye exams look at your total health history.
Even though you visit a separate office for your eye health, that doesn’t mean your eyes shouldn’t be treated holistically. Your eye doctor will discuss your overall health and that of your immediate family, any medications you’re taking, and whether you have high blood pressure or diabetes. They’ll also want to know if you smoke and how much sun exposure you get. All these factors help the eye doctor properly assess your eye health.
The American Optometric Association recommends an eye exam every two years between age 18-60 if you aren’t having any problems. After the age of 60, you should schedule a comprehensive exam annually or as recommended by your eye doctor, even if you aren’t aware of any problems.
Contact Lens Exam: Change “exam” to evaluation and edit for content as follows:
If you’ve never worn contact lenses before, it can seem a bit intimidating. After all, you’re inserting something into your eye! Let’s ease your mind about the first step – your contact lens evaluation. Here’s what you can expect every step of the way:
Dr. Bainbridge will first determine your overall eye health and vision. This includes a discussion of your health history and then a series of standard eye tests. These tests will evaluate eye focusing, eye teaming, depth perception, color vision, peripheral vision, and the response of your pupils to light. Dr. Bainbridge will also measure your eye’s fluid pressure to check for glaucoma, evaluate your retina and optic nerve, and test your vision with different lenses to assess whether contact lenses can improve your vision.
If contact lenses are appropriate for you, it’s time to talk about your contact lens preferences. For example, do you want to enhance or change your eye color? Would you prefer daily disposable lenses or extended-wear lenses, or orthokeratology for no daytime lens wear? Ask about the benefits or drawbacks of each, so that you make the best decision. If you’re over 40, Dr. Bainbridge will likely discuss age-related vision changes and which contact lens types can address these issues.
Contact lenses require precise measurements of your eyes to fit properly. Using an instrument called a keratometer, Dr. Bainbridge will measure the curvature of your cornea, the clear front surface of your eye. Next, the size of your pupils are measured. You may also have a corneal topography test, which maps out the curvature of the cornea over its entire surface.
If you have dry eyes, Dr. Bainbridge will perform a tear film evaluation to measure the amount and quality of tear film on the surface of your eye. If your tear film is insufficient or you have chronic dry eyes, contact lenses may not be a good option for you. However, some newer contact lenses deliver moisture to the surface of the eye, making them a better choice for individuals with dry eye issues. You may also benefit from a more in-depth dry eye evaluation at a separate focused visit.
The final step is to fit you with a pair of diagnostic contact lenses. Once inserted, Dr. Bainbridge will examine the lenses in your eyes to ensure a good fit. He will check the alignment and movement of the lenses on the surface of your eye and if the fit looks good, the last step is to ensure the prescription is correct with a few more tests.
Your contact lens evaluation is over, but you’ll need to come back. Dr. Bainbridge will usually have you wear the diagnostic lenses for at least a week. After that, you’ll have a short follow-up exam to confirm that the lenses are working well for you and you can then order a supply of contact lenses. If this is your first contact lens evaluation, don’t worry. Just be sure to let us know you’re interested in contact lenses so that we know to allow for extra time in your appointment for the consultation and any specialized tests.