If you and your family want to have healthy eyes, the first step is to have routine eye exams. But what goes into an eye exam and what can you expect when you have one? VisionCare Associates P.C. in East Lansing, Michigan has been providing patient care and services like eye exams for over 30 years.
When Should You have an Eye Exam?
For healthy vision throughout your life, it is important to start vision screening at birth. The American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommend eye exams on the following schedule:
- Newborn: After a baby is born, a trained health professional (like a pediatrician or family doctor) should examine their eyes by performing a red reflex test. If the baby was premature or is at high risk for other medical problems, an ophthalmologist should perform a comprehensive eye exam.
- Infant: The baby should have a second vision screening performed by an ophthalmologist, family doctor, or other trained health professionals at a well-child exam. This should occur between six months and their first birthday.
- Preschooler: The next time the child should have their vision assessed is between the ages of 3 and 3 1/2. This should assess their vision and eye alignment.
- School-Age: When they enter school, the child should have their eyes screened for visual acuity and alignment by someone trained in vision assessment of children that are school-aged. If there is an alignment problem or other eye problem suspected, the child should then have a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist.
If your child does not have any eye problems that require vision correction, they should still have an eye exam every two years. If your child needs to wear glasses or contacts, they should have an eye exam annually or as recommended by your eye doctor.
If an adult from the ages of 18 to 60 does not have any vision problems, they should still get their eyes checked every two years. At the age of 60 and older, adults should get their eyes checked every year.
Why are Eye Exams Important?
Like other routine examinations, eye exams are an important part of good health. No matter what your age, eye exams should be part of how you keep your eyes healthy.
To start with, eye exams are important because they are one of the only ways to check the health of your eyes. Ophthalmologists can look at the back of the eye and examine your retina during an eye exam.
An eye exam is also one of the only ways to find and diagnose eye conditions like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy. Things like depth perception, visual acuity, and eye movement are routinely tested during an eye exam to examine how your eyes move and react.
Eye exams are even able to spot other conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. The eyes may be the first part of the body to show any symptoms, so your eye doctor may be the first to notice these conditions, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
What to Expect at an Eye Exam
If you come to VisionCare Associates, P.C. for a comprehensive eye exam, it will usually take about an hour to complete. This is because we will test your eyes thoroughly for conditions. Some tests that you may undergo include:
- Visual Acuity: Visual acuity is one of the most important things tested during an eye exam because it measures the sharpness of your vision. This is tested using a project eye chart, which measures your distance visual acuity along with a handheld acuity chart, which measures your near vision.
- Color Blindness Test: Another test you may undergo is a color blindness test. This test checks your color vision to see if you are color blind. It can also alert your eye doctor to other eye problems you may have that could affect your color vision.
- Cover Test: To understand how your eyes work together, your eye doctor will have you perform the cover test. During this test, your eye doctor will have you focus on a small object located across the room. Each of your eyes will then be alternately covered while you stare at the object. You will then repeat the test and look at an object that is near. This test lets your eye doctor see if your uncovered eye moves to focus on the target being focused on. If it does, this is often a sign of strabismus or amblyopia.
- Refraction: If you wear glasses or your eye doctor knows that you will need to wear glasses, this test is what is used to determine your exact eyeglass prescription. During a refraction, an instrument called a phoropter is put in front of your eyes. Your eye doctor will then show you a series of lens choices and ask you which of the two lenses in each looks clearer. From your answers, your eye doctor can fine-tune the lens power. This determines your level of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
InfantSee is a no-cost program offering free initial screenings for infants between 6 and 12 months of age. Created in 2005 by the American Optometric Association, this program is designed to catch early eye problems such as: amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (eye turn), high amounts of uncorrected refractive error, and ocular pathology. All doctors at VisionCare are InfantSee providers and are glad to examine your child to place him/her on the correct path toward proper eye development.
VisionCare takes pride in its contributions to investigative studies that help produce the resources for future treatments and products in the world of eye care. These studies concern some of the most important issues within the field of optometry. Involvement with investigative studies ensures that our office is on the cutting edge to provide the best products for our patients.