For both adults and children alike, eye exams are an important part of one’s general health maintenance and assessment. Your eyes should be checked regularly to ensure that you are able to see as best as possible. Regular eye health exams will also check for signs of eye disease or conditions that can affect not only your vision but your overall health. Vision and eye health is such a critical part in learning and development, therefore, we highly recommend eye exams for infants and children.
Vision Screening vs. an Eye Exam
When we recommend regular eye exams, this should not be confused with a vision screening. A vision screening is a basic test that indicates if you have difficulty seeing and require further assessment and corrective measures. It can be performed by anyone, whether it is a school nurse, a pediatrician or even a volunteer at a vision clinic. A vision screening usually only checks vision, it does not check eye health. Also, most vision screenings for kids only check for nearsightedness (when you can not see far), but what happens when the majority of children are farsighted? Most of the time many of these kids get overlooked.
A comprehensive eye exam on the other hand, can only be performed by an eye doctor as it requires special knowledge and equipment to look around and into your eye to check your eye and vision health. Such an exam can assess whether there are underlying causes for vision problems and whether there are any signs of disease which can threaten your site and the health of your eye. A comprehensive eye examination can also diagnose symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tumors, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disorders. A comprehensive eye examination will also provide an accurate prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Eye Exams for Eye Health
Eye exams are critical because many vision threatening eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy have no or minimal symptoms until the disease has progressed. In these cases, early detection and treatment is essential to halting or slowing down the progression of the disease and saving eyesight. During a comprehensive eye examination, your eye doctor will be looking for initial signs of these diseases. If a problem with your eyes arises such as red eyes, eye allergies, dry eyes, eye swelling,eye pain, always seek an eye doctor as your first doctor to call since they are specifically trained to treat eye diseases.
Eye Exams and Children
If your child is having developmental delays or trouble in school there could be an underlying vision problem. Proper learning, motor development, reading, and many other skills are dependent upon not only good vision, but your eyes functioning together. Children that have problems with focusing or hand-eye coordination will often experience frustration and may exhibit behavioral problems as well. Often they don’t know that the vision they are experiencing is abnormal so they aren’t able to express that they need help. Many conditions are much easier to treat when they are caught early while the eyes are still developing, so it is important to diagnose any eye health and vision issues as early as possible.
Eye Exams Over 40
Just like the rest of our bodies, our eyes begin to weaken as we age. There are a number of common age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration that can begin to affect your vision and your daily life. While some of these conditions are more of an inconvenience, others could lead to vision loss and dependency.
In addition to regular yearly eye exams, it is important to be aware of any changes in your eye health and vision. Also know your potential risk factors as well as your family ocular and medical history. Over half of the vision loss worldwide is preventable with proper treatment and care.
Eye Exams for Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing eyeglasses. An often unknown fact is that not all patients wear contact lenses as their primary source of vision correction. Each patient is different, with some patients wearing contact lenses only on weekends, special occasions or just for sports. That is the beauty of contact lens wear, the flexibility it gives each individual patient and their lifestyle.
If you decide to opt for contact lens wear, it is very important that the lenses fit properly and comfortably and that you understand contact lens safety and hygiene. A contact lens exam will include both a comprehensive eye exam to check your overall eye health, your general vision prescription and then a contact lens consultation and measurement to determine the proper lens fit.
The Importance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Whether or not you have vision problems, it is important to have your eyes checked regularly to ensure they are healthy and that there are no signs of a developing eye condition. A comprehensive eye exam will check the general health of your eyes as well as the quality of your vision. During this exam the eye doctor will determine your prescription for eyeglasses, however this prescription alone is not sufficient for contact lenses. The doctor may also check for any eye health issues that could interfere with the comfort and success of contact lens wear.
The Contact Lens Consultation
The contact lens industry is always developing new innovations to make contacts more comfortable, convenient and accessible. Therefore, one of the initial steps in a contact lens consultation is to discuss with your eye doctor some lifestyle and health considerations that could impact the type of contacts that suit you best.
Some of the options to consider are whether you would prefer daily disposables or monthly disposable lenses, as well as soft versus rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses. If you have any particular eye conditions, such as astigmatism or dry eye syndrome, your eye doctor might have specific recommendations for the right type or brand for your optimal comfort and vision needs.
Now is the time to tell your eye doctor if you would like to consider colored contact lenses as well. If you are over 40 and experience problems seeing small print, for which you need bifocals to see close objects, your eye doctor may recommend multifocal lenses or a combination of multifocal and monovision lenses to correct your unique vision needs.
Contact Lens Fitting
One size does not fit all when it comes to contact lenses. Your eye doctor will need to take some measurements to properly fit your contact lenses. Contact lenses that do not fit properly could cause discomfort, blurry vision or even damage the eye. Here are some of the measurements your eye doctor will take for a contact lens fitting:
In order to assure that the fitting curve of the lens properly fits the curve of your eye, your doctor will measure the curvature of the cornea or front surface of the eye. The curvature is measured with an instrument called a keratometer to determine the appropriate curve for your contact lenses. If you have astigmatism, the curvature of your cornea is not perfectly round and therefore a “toric” lens, which is designed specifically for an eye with astigmatism, would be fit to provide the best vision and lens fit. In certain cases your eye doctor may decide to measure your cornea in greater detail with a mapping of the corneal surface called corneal topography.
Pupil or Iris Size
Your eye doctor may measure the size of your pupil or your iris (the colored area of your eye) with an instrument called a biomicroscope or slit lamp or manually with a ruler or card. This measurement is especially important if you are considering specialized lenses such as Gas Permeable (GP) contacts.
Tear Film Evaluation
One of the most common problems affecting contact lens wear is dry eyes. If the lenses are not kept adequately hydrated and moist, they will become uncomfortable and your eyes will feel dry, irritated and itchy. Particularly if you have dry eye syndrome, your doctor will want to make sure that you have a sufficient tear film to keep the lenses moist and comfortable, otherwise, contact lenses may not be a suitable vision option.
A tear film evaluation is performed by the doctor by putting a drop of liquid dye on your eye and then viewing your tears with a slit lamp or by placing a special strip of paper under the lid to absorb the tears to see how much moisture is produced. If your tear film is weak, your eye doctor may recommend certain types of contact lenses that are more successful in maintaining moisture.
Contact Lens Trial and Prescription
After deciding which pair of lenses could work best with your eyes, the eye doctor may have you try on a pair of lenses to confirm the fit and comfort before finalizing and ordering your lenses. The doctor or assistant would insert the lenses and keep them in for 15-20 minutes before the doctor exams the fit, movement and tearing in your eye. If after the fitting, the lenses appear to be a good fit, your eye doctor will order the lenses for you. Your eye doctor will also provide care and hygiene instructions including how to insert and remove your lenses, how long to wear them and how to store them if relevant.
Your eye doctor may request that you schedule a follow-up appointment to check that your contact lenses are fitting properly and that your eyes are adjusting properly. If you are experiencing discomfort or dryness in your eyes you should visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. Your eye doctor may decide to try a different lens, a different contact lens disinfecting solution or to try an adjustment in your wearing schedule.
Preparing for an Eye Exam
Make the most of your exams by knowing how often to get them, and what information to bring with you.
For both adults and children, an eye exam is a critical part in maintaining your overall health and well-being, and therefore, regular eye exams should be incorporated into your health routine. Comprehensive eye exams assess your vision and the health of your eye, looking for early signs of disease that may not have obvious symptoms. You should not wait until you experience a vision problem or symptoms of an eye condition to schedule a routine exam.
Depending on your age, family history, general health and eye health, it is recommended to have an eye exam every one to two years. Of course if you experience any serious symptoms that affect your eyes or your vision, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.
The Difference Between an Optometrist (OD) and an Ophthalmologist (MD or DO)
Confusion about the difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists is common, and many people are not aware of how the two eye care professionals differ.
Optometrists or Doctors of Optometry attend optometry school which is usually at least four years of graduate level training. They are able to perform eye exams, provide prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose and treat eye diseases as as glaucoma, dry eyes, or eye infections that may require medication or drops. They can consult with and co-manage patients in pre- or post-op surgical care, however they do not perform surgery.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors that attend medical school and later specialize in ophthalmology. They are able to do all of the services mentioned above but also perform eye surgeries such as cataract surgery, refractive surgery such as LASIK and deal with more urgent eye conditions such as retinal detachment.
Infant and Child Eye Exams
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA) children should have their eyes examined by an eye doctor at 6 months, 3 years, at the start of school and then at least every 2 years following. If there are any signs that there may be a vision problem or if the child has certain risk factors (such as developmental delays, premature birth, crossed eyes, family history or previous injuries) more frequent exams are recommended. A child that wears eyeglasses or contact lenses should have his or her eyes examined yearly.
Adult Eye Exams
Healthy adults under 40 with good vision and who do not wear eyeglasses or contact lenses are recommended to have an eye exam at least every two years. Those that do use vision correction or have a health issue such as diabetes, high blood pressure or another health condition that can have an impact on your eye health should schedule a yearly exam, unless the eye doctor recommends more frequent visits.
Once you reach 40, you become susceptible to a number of age-related eye conditions such as presbyopia, cataracts or macular degeneration, therefore annual or bi-annual exams are strongly recommended.
As you continue to age, particularly after age 55, the risks of eye disease increase, and early detection can be critical to preventing significant vision loss or blindness. Scheduling a yearly eye exam can make all the difference in maintaining your independence and quality of life.
How to Prepare for Your Exam
Prior to your exam you should decide whether you will be seeking special services such as a contact lens exam or LASIK consultation. These services may cost extra. Check with the doctor’s office or your insurance provider to see if they cover any of the exam expenses.
You need to know if you have medical insurance, vision plan coverage or both. Medical insurance usually does not cover “wellness/refractive” exams for glasses or contact lenses. Vision plans will cover exams for glasses or contacts, but usually cannot be used for red eyes, floaters, or other medical eye health problems. Please bring your insurance cards with you.
In addition to bringing your current pair of glasses or contacts if applicable, it is important to be aware of your personal and family history and to have a list of medications or supplements you are currently taking. Your pupils will probably be dilated as apart of your exam, so plan accordingly.
What to Expect
You might be going to a regularly-scheduled eye exam. You may be following a recommendation to see an eye doctor after a vision screening at a local clinic or wellness center. Or your next eye doctor visit could be a response to vision problems or eye discomfort.
The more you know going in, the easier the entire vision care process will be.
For regularly scheduled eye exams, expect to talk about any changes in your medical history since the last time you saw your eye doctor. And if this is your first time in a new practice, you’ll be asked to provide a more complete medical history, including a list of medications you’re currently taking, and any family history of vision or medical problems.
In addition, you’ll undergo a series of vision and eye tests that help determine the overall health and quality of your vision. These tests also help to check that your current prescription glasses or contacts (if you have one) is still meeting your vision needs. Your eye doctor will also check your eyes for signs of any potential vision problems or eye diseases. In many instances, your pupil may be dilated (opened) using special drops so that your eye doctor can better see the structures of the eye.The drops will make you light sensitive and a little blurry, especially for close vision, so come prepared with sunglasses, if possible. The office can provide sun protection if you forget or don’t have your own. Some people don’t feel comfortable driving or going back to work after the drops, so plan accordingly.
You’ll then have an honest discussion about the current state of your eye health and vision, and your eye doctor may “prescribe” vision correction for you in the form of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Any health concerns or possibly serious vision complications will also be discussed, including the next steps you must take to preserve and protect your sight.
In general, a routine eye exam will last less than an hour depending upon the number of tests you have, and may be partially or completely covered by many vision insurance plans.
Visiting eye doctors as a result of a vision screening is also common, but remember: vision screenings offered by health clinics, pediatricians, public schools or local charitable organizations are not a substitute for comprehensive eye exams. Be sure to bring the findings from your screening to your eye doctor—it’s a great way to begin the discussion of your current eye health.
For eye doctor visits that result from eye pain, eye discomfort or vision problems you actually can see, expect to take many of the steps involved in a routine eye exam, but specific to the symptoms you’re having. There may be a number of additional tests required as well, so it’s important—especially when suffering pain or discomfort—to allow for as much time as possible for a complete, comprehensive eye exam.
And if you feel you are in an emergency situation with your eyes or your vision—don’t wait. Seek immediate emergency medical treatment.
What to remember
Many vision problems and eye diseases often present minimal, if any, symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to make regular appointments to see your eye doctor. And since vision can change gradually over time, it’s important to know that you’re seeing your best, year after year.
Remember the following for your next eye doctor visit:
- Know your medical history and list of current medications
- Know your current symptoms and be able to describe them—write them down if necessary
- Know your family history—some eye diseases like glaucoma and cataracts are hereditary
- Ask in advance about your particular vision insurance plan, and if a co-pay will be due
- Bring your insurance card, identification and method of payment, if necessary
- Bring your most recent prescription for glasses or contact lenses
- Bring your corrective eyewear to the exam
- If undergoing a test using dilation eye drops, bring proper eye protection, like sunglasses, for after your appointment
Most importantly, remember that eye doctors—and everyone within the eyecare practice—are there to help you see your best and feel your best
Visiting Your Eye Care Professional
Whether you or a loved one are having a first eye exam, a repeat eye exam, or are seeing a new eye doctor for the first time, there are a number of routine questions you can expect. But your answers to these questions during eye exams are anything but routine for your eye doctor.
That’s because there are any number of factors in your medical history that can contribute to current or potential vision problems. Understanding your lifestyle and describing any visual problems you’re having helps to point your eye exam in the right direction. And there are medical conditions, medications and circumstances that can put you or a family member at a higher risk for certain eye diseases.
Though the processes and procedures involved in an eye doctor visit and exam are similar for everyone—your exam is unique to you and you alone. That’s because the process of examining your visual acuity (sharpness), visual ability, and then using different machines and procedures to examine your eyes, is as individual as a fingerprint.
Over time, your vision and overall health changes. That, more than anything, is why there’s a general procedure to follow during an eye exam, and why it’s important to visit your eye doctor. Without eye doctor visits, these critical changes in vision and eye health may go unnoticed.
An eye doctor visit is a process
Beyond what you need to know going into an exam, know that visiting your eye doctor is a process you should repeat regularly to maintain eye health and ideal vision.
- You can expect an eye doctor visit to last about an hour or so, depending upon whether or not you’ll need to have your pupils dilated (opened up) with special drops to allow your eyecare professional to fully analyze the internal structure of the eye.
- Your eye doctor visit starts with a review of your eye exam history, and any visible changes in your sight, your lifestyle, and any changes in your medical condition that may affect your vision. (This includes knowing all medications you’re taking.)
- Then you’ll undergo simple visual acuity tests designed to check your overall vision, near vision, and side vision. These tests may reveal vision errors that need correction; errors that usually direct your exam toward special equipment used to accurately determine your prescription.
But expect even more out of your visit to the eye doctor—because correcting vision and maintaining good eye health do require additional, regularly-performed tests.
Visiting your eye doctor regularly is the only reliable way to maintain healthy sight and possibly prevent mild to serious eye diseases.
For children, teens, and adults of all ages, an eye doctor visit needs to happen regularly; at the minimum once every two years, and more frequently if you currently have eye disease, are at risk or have diabetes, or are approaching stages in life that put you at risk for age-related eye disease.
Things to know before eye exams
Beyond having your vision insurance information, necessary payment and identification ready, here’s a checklist of things to know before you approach the front desk at your next eye exam.
- What eye problems are you having now? Is your vision blurry or hazy at certain distances? Do you have problems in your side vision? Are you experiencing pain or discomfort in certain lighting situations?
- Do you have a history of any eye problems or eye injury? Do you have a current prescription for glasses or contact lenses? Are you wearing them regularly, and if so, are you still happy with them?
- Were you or your loved one born prematurely? Have you had any health problems in the recent such as high blood pressure or heart disease? Are you diabetic? Are you considered overweight?
- Are you taking any medications? Do you have allergies to medications, food or other materials? Seasonal allergies?
- Has anyone in your family (including parents) suffered from eye problems or diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration?
- Has anyone in your family (including parents) suffered from high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes? What about other health problems that can affect the whole body like blood disorders or cancer?
Eye exams include a detailed history because many things you might consider unrelated to vision may actually affect your current vision, or reveal potential risks for developing certain eye diseases. Be ready to provide a complete history at your next eye exam, and help the front desk, and your eye doctor, best prepare for the examination that follows.
What to Ask
It’s essential, too, that you make the most out of your exams. We’ve included a range of questions for you to ask during your next eye exam, or if necessary, before your exam to avoid any miscommunication. We hope you find these helpful and that the information contained in our EyeGlass Guide 2.0 will help to facilitate a comprehensive and informed dialogue between you and your eye care professional.Questions to ask before your eye exam…
- Do you accept my insurance plan’s vision coverage?
- Is payment required at the time of service?
- What will my eye exam entail?
- How long should I expect to be there?
- Will my pupils be dilated?
- What should I bring with me?
Questions to ask at your eye exam…
- Given my age, eye condition and other risk factors, how often should I have my eyes examined?
- At what age should I start to schedule my children for regular eye exams?
- What lens designs and options are a good fit for me?
- Can my glasses block UV rays?
- Do all sunglasses protect my eyes from UV rays?
- What are photochromic lenses and are they a good option for me?
Things to remember
It’s always a good idea to bring any of the following (if available) to your eye exam appointment:
- Your insurance card/insurance information
- A list of all medications, vitamins and other supplements you are taking
- All pairs of prescription glasses you currently own
- If you have it, a copy of your latest eyeglass prescription
- Information on frames you like, or lenses you’ve researched
Don’t forget, if participating in a flexible spending account program, you may be able to use the account to pay for portions of your eye care not covered directly by your insurance plan.
Your Comprehensive Eye Exam
Learn what common tests and procedures to expect during a routine eye exam.
Your eyes are one of the most complex organs in your body. A comprehensive eye exam to assess your visual system and eye health involves a number of different of tests. Unlike a simple vision screening, which only assesses your vision, a comprehensive eye exam includes a battery of tests in order to do a complete evaluation of the health of your eyes and your vision.
The tests that you will undergo in a comprehensive eye examination may vary from eye doctor to eye doctor but here are are some common exams that you may encounter:
Patient Background and History
One of the most important parts in a comprehensive eye exam is your patient health history. This information will alert your doctor to any conditions that should be monitored closely, such as an allergy to any medications, current or family history of systemic or eye pathology or environmental conditions that could be affecting your vision or eye health. This will also help your doctor to determine any preventative eye care measures that are relevant to keep your eyes healthy for years to come.
Visual acuity is a measurement of your vision using an eye chart, the Snellen Eye Chart. In this test the patient is seated at a standard distance and is asked to read letters or symbols of various sizes, which get smaller as you move down the chart. The results are the familiar ratio of 20/20, 20/40 etc. which is a comparison of your vision compared to the average person with good vision, which is typically 20/20. For example, a patient that has 20/40 vision, can only see at 20 feet what the normal person can see from a distance of 40 feet. This test is a preliminary test of how clearly you are seeing in each eye but it does not give you a prescription for corrective lenses.
Those who don’t have 20/20 vision have what is referred to in most cases as a “Refractive Error.” The patient may have nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism or other eye conditions that prevent the patient from seeing 20/20. A refraction will tell the doctor which prescription lenses will correct your eyesight to achieve 20/20 vision or whichever amount your vision is correctable to.
A refraction may include a couple of steps.
Retinoscopy is a test that allows the doctor to obtain an approximate prescription for eyeglasses. In this test the doctor uses a hand-held instrument called a retinoscope that shines a light into the patient’s eye. The doctor then analyzes the reflex of the light from the patient’s eye to determine the patient’s prescription for glasses.
An instrument called a phoropter is something most patients associate with an eye exam. This space age appearing instrument, positioned in front of the patient’s face during the eye exam, gives the doctor the ability to determine the patient’s focusing ability as well as their eye alignment. The phoropter also determines which, out of the hundreds and hundreds of potential eyeglass prescriptions, will help the patient see as clear as possible. Using the phoropter, the doctor will ask the patient which series of lenses makes their vision the clearest.
While retinoscopy is quite effective for children and nonverbal patients, there are now a number of computerized or automated instruments available today to help doctors accurately determine a patient’s eyeglass prescription.
Autorefractors and Aberrometers
Autorefractors and aberrometers are computerized machines that are able to measure your refractive error to determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. These instruments are usually used in addition to testing described earlier:
– An autorefractor is similar to retinoscopy, which electronically analyses the light reflex from the patient’s eye.
– An aberrometer measures distortions or aberrations in the cornea and lens of the eye that disrupt proper focus of light on the retina. Using wavefront technology, the instrument measures the rays of light as they pass through your eye to look for imperfections which may indicate a refractive error.
Eye Focusing and Eye Teaming Tests
During the comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will also want to test how your eyes function individually and together from a mechanical perspective. In order to see clearly and comfortably, your eyes need to work together as a team.
The final and most important aspect of a comprehensive eye exam is a check of your overall eye health. These tests (below) are done to identify any eye conditions or diseases, both inside the eye as well as the external parts of the eye, that could affect your vision and general health.
Slit Lamp Test
The slit lamp or biomicroscope is an instrument that allows the doctor to examine the internal and external parts of the eye in detail, such as the conjunctiva, iris, lens, cornea, retina and the optic nerve. The patient rests their forehead and chin on a headrest to stabilize the head, while the doctor looks into the eye with the slit lamp microscope, which is magnified with a high-intensity light. A slit lamp test enables the doctor to evaluate the eyes for signs of normal aging and eye pathology, such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, macular degeneration or retinal detachment. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases are essential for preventing vision loss.
Tonometry is a test to detect glaucoma by measuring the pressure inside your eye or IOP (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma can cause vision loss and even blindness if the IOP in the eye is too high and damages the optic nerve.
The applanation tonometer, typically attached to a slit lamp, is one of the most common instruments used to measure the pressure in the eye. Prior to doing this test the doctor will numb the patient’s eyes using an anesthetic, before gently applanating (putting pressure on) the patient’s cornea to measure the pressure in the eye.
During your comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may decide to do a dilated eye exam. In this test, your doctor will instill dilating drops in each eye, which would enlarge your pupils to give the doctor a better view of certain parts of the back of the eye. Dilation is done at the discretion of the doctor, with some patients dilated every year and others at specified intervals; the frequency of dilation will vary for each patient.
Typically the drops take around 20 to 30 minutes to take effect and may last up to several hours following the exam; each patient is different. Since more light enters your eyes when your pupils are dilated, you will be more sensitive to bright light, especially sunlight. Although your doctor may provide disposable sunglasses, you may want to bring a pair of sunglasses to wear after the exam to make it more comfortable until the drops wear off.
A comprehensive eye exam is an important part of your overall general health maintenance and should be scheduled on a regular basis. The findings from your comprehensive eye exam can give your doctor important information about your overall health, particularly diabetes and high blood pressure.
While there are some basic eye vision tests common to most eye exams, children and young adults have different vision testing needs than say, a healthy middle-aged adult, or an adult with a history of eye problems.
Vision testing equipment ranges from simple tools like the “Big E” eye chart (Snellen Chart) and a hand-held penlight and eye cover, to more complex devices that swap lenses in front of your eyes or use special lamps to view the eye’s structure. A comprehensive eye exam includes vision testing, and vision testing equipment that is common to almost all eye exams, but is often tailored to your age, your specific need, or your individual symptoms. The following are some common tests you may be given during a routine eye exam.
- Autorefractors are machines that automatically determine the correct lens prescription for your eyes.
- Eye dilation means your pupil in front of the eye has been opened using special drops.
- Glaucoma testing involves measuring internal eye pressure and a detailed scan of the retina for signs of disease.
- An ophthalmoscope is a handheld device used to examine your eye’s interior structure, including the retina.
- Optomap® is new technology that allows for detailed retina examination without dilating pupils.
- Peripheral vision testing is the part of the eye exam that tests the “outside” of your vision.
- A phoropter is an instrument used to test individual lenses on each eye during an exam.
- A puffer test is a specific form of glaucoma testing measuring eye pressure (intraocular pressure).
- Retina scopes are used in eye exam procedures to accurately determine your prescription.
- Retinoscopy is a procedure using a retinoscope that helps to see if you need a prescription.
- A slit lamp exam is a magnified analysis of your eye from front to back.
- The “Big E” chart—or Snellen eye chart—is the most familiar type of visual acuity test.
- Vision testing and vision screening can each be a window of opportunity for healthy sight – find out how they are different.
- Vision testing includes vision testing equipment and procedures that either measure or gauge your visual ability, or look closely at specific structures of the eye.
In addition to being “windows to the soul”, your eyes are also a clear indicator—or window—to your overall general health. That’s why it’s so important to understand the relationship between your eyes and any medications you may currently be using. Since eye doctors can use your eye health as a predictor or measure of your general health, all medications that could affect your eyes need to be discussed with your eye care professional.
Can non eye-related medications affect my eyesight?
Yes, they can. Because of its rich blood supply and relatively small mass, the eye is susceptible to certain drugs and toxic agents. Many medications, both prescription and nonprescription (over the counter) can alter the quantity or the quality of your vision, or pose a threat to your future eye health.
Your current medications and healthy sight actually go hand in hand, and need to be discussed with your eye doctor.
How can medications affect eyesight?
Potential adverse effects of medications on your eyes can be classified into three basic categories:
- Medications that can cause blurred vision or alter your eyes’ ability to adjust to the environment can affect your quantity of vision.
- Medications that can induce glare, increase light sensitivity, or impair light-dark adaptation affect your quality of vision.
- Medications that can contribute to the development of ocular disorders. Certain medications can become a factor in developing disorders such as: cataracts, keratopathies, retinopathies, maculopathies, optic neuropathies, and glaucoma. These potential effects of certain medications are typically long term, potentially more serious, and pose a greater threat to vision. However, their progression can usually be prevented (or limited) if recognized early and the offending agent is discontinued or the dosage reduced.
Are there other factors to consider connecting medications and eyesight?
There is a growing body of experimental and epidemiological evidence connecting chronic UVR exposure with vision-threatening ocular disorders such as cataracts. Medications that either dilate the pupil (increasing the amount of UV entering the eye) or increase the effects of UV on the eye (photosensitizers) may increase the risk of developing UV-related eye disease.
If you are concerned about the effects your medications may have on your eyes, or experience any eye-related side effects, you should consult your primary care doctor or eye care professional.
Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide for the information on this page.