Preventive healthcare such as an annual physical exam and a bi-annual dental cleaning are essential to good overall health. While most people visit their doctor and dentist for routine check-ups, they often overlook the importance of comprehensive eye exams. Regular preventive care is especially important since many visual acuity and visual processing issues do not present obvious signs.
The first thing our eye doctors do is interview the patient about their optometry issues and overall health. Here are some basic questions our optometrists ask at the beginning of every appointment:
When did the eye or visual problems begin?
What prescription and non-prescription medications does the patient currently use?
Are there any environmental or work conditions that may contribute to eye or vision problems?
Does the patient have any previously treated eye or vision problems that have since been resolved?
Visual acuity means how clearly each of the patient’s eyes sees close up and at a distance. Reading charts with rows of letters in descending size are one common way to measure visual acuity. Patients who are old enough to read will read lines of letters from various distances away to measure close and distant vision.
Our optometrists assign a visual percentage based on the results of reading chart tests, such as 20/20 or 20/40. If a patient has 20/20 vision, it means that he or she can see all letters clearly at a distance of 20 feet. The higher the second number, the more visual correction the patient requires.
Determining how well a patient can see is just one aspect of comprehensive eye exams in Red Bank, NJ. Our staff also checks refraction to determine the strength of the lens necessary to correct the patient’s vision problem. To do this, an optometrist places a series of lenses in front of the patient using a machine called a photopter.
With the patient’s eyes focused on the lenses, the next step is to gauge how well the eyes react to light and the focusing power of the eyes using a handheld instrument called a retinoscope. These tests help our optometrists choose the sets of lenses that provide the patient with the clearest possible vision.
Some patients require eye drops to complete these tests, such as patients who are too young or have a medical condition that prevents them from responding verbally. Eye drops are also appropriate for people whose focusing power is not easy to determine. Once a patient has the specialized drops in each eye, the eyes are temporarily unable to change focus.
Eye drops are also necessary for eye doctors to evaluate the overall health of each eye. Drops that dilate the eye make it possible to make the pupils wider so the doctor can see inside of each eye. Eye pressure tests, measuring the curvature of the cornea, and determining eye teaming and focusing are additional tests that our optometrists complete at each comprehensive eye exam.
Adult patients should schedule an exam at least once every two years. Pediatric patients should come in annually to ensure their visual acuity and processing are where they need to be to succeed in school.