Annual Eye Exams: Your Best Defense Against Vision Loss

Start the new year off right with a commitment to your eye health! An annual eye exam is just as important as an annual physical. In fact, there are a lot of systemic diseases that present in the eye before the rest of the body, so an eye exam can often help protect more than just your eyesight. There are also eye diseases that are silent, and the best prognosis is achieved by early detection and intervention. An annual eye exam keeps you ahead of the curve!

The importance of annual eye exams | Mandel Vision Blog PostWe often hear our LASIK and PRK patients question the need for annual eye exams since they no longer need eye glasses.  Even though LASIK and PRK laser vision correction can improve your vision, the anatomy of the eye doesn’t change.  Therefore, patients who are nearsighted are still at a slightly higher risk for eye conditions such as a retinal detachment.  Similarly, patients who are farsighted are still at a slightly higher risk for eye conditions such as narrow angle glaucoma. It’s also important to note that annual eye exams are recommended for all patients, even if they have perfect vision and have never worn glasses or contact lenses.

For such a small organ, the eyes are really complex.  There are many components of the eye that contribute to your overall vision.  An annual eye exam checks the health of these components.  Here are some important tests that should be included in an annual eye exam:

1.  Visual Acuity:  This is a vision test to see if you can achieve 20/20 vision without the need for corrective lenses. Vision is tested one eye at a time.  If your vision is less than 20/20 a refraction, which is a test that’s done to determine a prescription for corrective lenses, may be done.  If your vision cannot be improved with corrective lenses, your eye doctor will check for other causes for decreased visual acuity, such as cataracts.

2.  Peripheral Vision (A.K.A.:  Confrontation Fields):  This tests your peripheral or side vision.  This is also measured one eye at a time.  Loss of peripheral vision can be caused by many things, including stroke, brain tumors and glaucoma.

3.  Ocular Motility:  The eyes are tested together to make sure that both eyes have a smooth, full range of movement.  It’s during this exam that strabismus can be detected.  Strabismus is a misalignment of the eyes.  Instead of both eyes looking in the same direction, one eye may appear turned in, out, up or down.

4.  Pupillary Reaction:  Your pupils will be examined with a bright light to make sure they constrict and dilate properly.  Many things can contribute to your pupils not reacting properly, including head injury and stroke.

5.  Intraocular Pressure:  This is one of several screening tests available for glaucoma.  The eye is typically anesthetized for this measurement.  A special instrument known as a tonometer prism is then placed on the eye.  This prism measures how much pressure it takes to flatten the cornea.  This reading is your intraocular pressure reading.  If your pressure is not in the normal range, further testing such as a visual field or a GDX exam may be recommended.

6.  Slit-lamp examination:  The slit-lamp is a special microscope which cross-sections the eye.  This enables your eye doctor to look at all of the different layers of the eye to make sure they are healthy.  Some of the many parts of the eye that are examined using the slit-lamp microscope are the:

7.  Dilated Fundus Exam:  This is the medical portion of the exam.  Once the pupil is fully dilated, your eye doctor will use a special lens along with an instrument known as an indirect ophthalmoscope to view the back of the eye.  Some of the structures that are examined during this exam are the:

Make your eyes a priority in 2016!  Call your eye doctor to make an appointment for an annual eye exam today.  Your best defense against potentially blinding eye disease is early intervention.  You only have one pair of eyes, be sure to protect them!


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