Eye exams are an important part of maintaining the overall health of your eyes. They are designed to determine how well light rays are focused on the retina. Eye doctors are specially trained to check for, recognize, and treat eye conditions and diseases. We recommend you have a yearly eye exam by your eye doctor.
If you wear contact lenses, be sure to inform your eye doctor when scheduling your appointment, as additional time will be needed to measure your eye’s surface and fit your contact lenses.
There are a number of tests that your eye doctor may conduct during your normal routine eye exam to ensure your vision is at its best.
A Visual Acuity Test is a routine part of an eye examination performed to determine the smallest letters a patient can read on a standardized chart that is 20 feet away. You will be asked to remove your contact lenses or glasses and gently cover one eye with the palm of your hand while reading aloud the smallest line of letters you can read on the chart. The test is performed on each eye, one at a time.
Your visual acuity will be expressed in a fraction. The top number represents the distance you stand from the chart, while the bottom number represents the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could read the same line you read correctly. For example, normal vision is considered 20/20. If your visual acuity is 20/40, then this indicates that the line that you correctly read at 20 feet can be read by a person with normal vision from 40 feet away.
A Visual Field Test will allow your eye doctor to see the full horizontal and vertical range of what you are able to see peripherally. They determine the potential of blind spots (scotomas) occurring, which could indicate eye diseases.
A Confrontation Visual Field Test is the most common type of field test used by eye doctors. You will be asked to cover one eye while focusing on a specific target object, such as the doctor, and then you will be asked to describe images in his/her peripheral vision. If an eye disease is suspected, further comprehensive, more formal types of tests may be required.
A retinoscopy test will usually be performed early in the eye exam so the eye doctor can determine an approximate prescription from which to start. With the room’s lights dim, you will be asked to look through a machine and focus on a large target (usually the big “E” on the chart). Your doctor will shine a light in your eye and flip lenses on the machine. Based on the how the light reflects on your retina, the doctor will be able to calculate your refractive error.
An autorefractor is sometimes used by doctors to determine a patient’s prescription. A chin rest will help stabilize your head while you look at a pinpoint of light. It is used to evaluate the way your retina focuses an image. Autorefractors are commonly used in evaluating children’s’ eyes. .
A slit-lamp examination uses a microscope with a light attached, which allows the eye doctor to examine the structures at the front of the eye (cornea, iris and lens) under high magnification. Some patients may have to have their eyes dilated; allowing for a more efficient examination.
Glaucoma tests are performed to measure the pressure inside your eye. While there are a few variations of glaucoma tests, the most commonly used is the tonometer. Using a chin rest to help stabilize your head, you will look directly into the machine and the doctor will puff a small burst of air at your open eye. The tonometer does not come in contact with the eye and the procedure is painless. Your eye’s pressure will be calculated based on your eye’s resistance to the puff of air.
If your emergency is very serious, you should quickly proceed to the nearest hospital emergency room. Otherwise, we will do our best to see you as soon as possible.
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When you take a picture with a camera, the lens in the front of the camera allows light to pass through and focus that light on the film that covers the back side of the camera. A picture is taken when the light hits the film. Our eyes work in a very similar way. The front of the eye (the cornea, pupil and lens) is clear, which allows light to pass through. The cornea and lens of the eye focuses the light on the back wall of the eye, the retina. Like the film, the retina is the “seeing” tissue of the eye, sending messages to the brain through the optic nerve, allowing us to see.
Perfect vision is 20/20. A person is legally blind when their better eye’s best corrected visual acuity is less than 20/200. A person can also be legally blind if their side vision in their better eye is narrowed to 20 degrees or less. Although someone may be legally blind, some vision still may be useful and helpful for everyday life. Legally blind people may qualify for certain government benefits.
Low vision is not blindness, but is a level of vision below normal (20/70 or worse) that cannot be corrected with conventional glasses. Low vision can interfere with a person’s performance of daily activities, including reading or driving.
Ophthalmologists provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care. They must complete four years of premedical college, four years of medical school, one year of internship and three years of medical and surgical training in eye care.
Optometrists are different from ophthalmologists. Optometrists are specifically educated in an accredited optometry college for four years, but they do not attend medical school. Optometrists may diagnose eye conditions; however, they are usually not licensed to perform surgical eye treatment procedures.
Although an optometrist is a licensed doctor, their expertise is limited to only examining and diagnosing eye diseases, rather than treating them. They do, however, have the ability to examine, diagnose and treat visual conditions, and are able to prescribe glasses and contact lenses.
Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, are Medical Doctors who specialize in vision care. They are skilled in providing a full range of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contacts to intricate and delicate eye surgery.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that the first vision screening be conducted for a newborn prior to being discharged from the hospital. Visual function will be monitored by your child’s pediatrician during well-child exams (usually at two, four and six months of age). If there are any signs of an eye condition, your child may be referred to an ophthalmologist. Beginning at 3 years of age (and yearly after 5 years of age), amblyopia (poor vision in an otherwise normal appearing eye), refractive and alignment screenings should take place. If you notice any signs of decreased vision or misalignment of the eye, please contact your ophthalmologist for a complete eye examination.
We recommend adult examinations of the eyes be performed on a regular basis. Below is a chart with a recommended time line of how often an adult should receive an eye examination.
Ages 20-39 - Every three to five years.
Ages 40-65 - Every two to four years.
Ages 65 and older - Every one to two years.
Yes, poor vision can be directly related to your family’s history of eye health. It is important to see an ophthalmologist at the first sign of poor vision.
No, there is no evidence that television sets produce rays that are harmful to the eyes.
No, there is no evidence that working at a computer can damage the eyes. However, low light, glare on the monitor, or staring at a computer screen too long can cause the eyes to become fatigued. It is recommended to take frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest.
No, there is no evidence that low light can harm the eye.
Yes, pink-eye (viral conjunctivitis) is very contagious, and very common. To help prevent spreading pink-eye, avoid touching eyes with your hands, wash hands frequently, do not share towels, and avoid work, school or daycare activities for a least five days or as long as discharge is present.
No. Presently, there is no medical way to transplant a whole eye.
Wearing UV protective lenses can be beneficial in protecting your eyes from cataract formation. Surprisingly, clear UV coated lenses may offer more protection than darker lenses because they allow the eyes to be exposed to more light causing the pupil to constrict more, which ultimately prevents more light from entering into the eye.
With the advancement in today’s technology, there are many new materials available for glasses that have helped make them virtually indestructible. Titanium frames and polycarbonate frames are two of the newest materials used. Polycarbonate materials, glass and various types of lightweight plastics are used to make the lenses. There are several types of coatings available for lenses, including UV protection (which is highly recommended for all types of lenses), polarization, anti-glare and scratch-resistant just to name a few.)
Eye exams may vary from person to person, but here are a few common things we may do during a routine exam:
Research has shown that eating carrots will provide you with a small amount of vitamin A, which is beneficial for good vision. Vitamin A is also in other food items including milk, cheese, egg yolk and broccoli.
It is important to seek immediate medical assistance from either an ophthalmologist or primary care physician if you receive an injury to the eye. This will help reduce the risk of any permanent damage. To view some general guidelines for properly treating eye injuries, visit our Common Problems page.
The best way to combat any illness is to take steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place, and the same can be said about eye-related illnesses and injuries. Even after your eyes have difficulties, however, there are still plenty of ways to help take care of them, and all of these methods are important and effective.
Your eyes, just like any other organ, require plenty of nutrients to function well. Be especially mindful of getting plenty of Vitamin A, minerals like zinc, and antioxidants in your diet for proper eye care. A diet lacking these nutrients can contribute strongly to macular degeneration and xerophthalmia (dry eye syndrome), a condition that can lead to blindness.
When playing sports, working with power tools and doing yard work or household chores, it’s important to remember to protect your eyes. Countless eye injuries occur each year from a simple lack of protection. Remember that eyeglasses are not an adequate guard against debris and chemicals – use proper safety glasses, safety goggles or face shields.
A common cause of many cases of cataracts and macular degeneration is exposure to sunlight’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone take protective measures against UV exposure any time they will be in sunlight long enough to tan or burn. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses are both easy and inexpensive ways to help reduce your exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays.
Though experts say that straining your eyes (which is actually a condition of stressing the muscles around the eyes) cannot do any permanent harm, it is still uncomfortable and can lead to red or watery eyes. The best remedy for eyestrain is simply to give your eyes a rest. You can also avoid eyestrain by increasing your reading light or wearing your prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.
A chalazion is a lump that appears in the eyelid as a result of inflammation in an oil-producing sweat gland inside the skin. When this gland becomes blocked, it can rupture, which often leads to inflammation. A chalazion usually only involves the upper eyelid and may cause swelling, occasional pain and redness. It can cause the eyelid to swell and can sometimes grow as large as an eighth of an inch.
Use warm compresses 10-15 minutes, 2-4 times a day to help reduce swelling. If after 3-4 days the swelling hasn’t subsided, contact your ophthalmologist. You should contact your ophthalmologist immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
A sty is tender, red bump on the eyelid caused by an acute infection or inflammation of the oil glands in the eyelid. If the gland is blocked, the oil produced by the gland will become congested and cause the oil to protrude through the wall of the gland forming a lump. A sty can grow on the upper and/or lower eyelid and cause tenderness and burning.
Most sties will go away on their own within a week. You can apply warm compresses 4-6 times a day, 15 minutes at a time to help the drainage. It is important to stop using eye makeup and lotions while the sty is present. Also, do not wear contact lenses because the sty could cause an infection that could spread to your cornea. You should seek treatment from your ophthalmologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
If you suffer from seasonal eye allergies, consult your ophthalmologist. Many different types of medical treatments for eye allergies are available by prescription. Be sure to see an ophthalmologist for prescription information if you experience unusual eye pain, tearing, itching or swelling.
Your ophthalmologist may prescribe eye drops to treat certain eye conditions, infections or diseases. Before you use any eye drops, be sure to tell your ophthalmologist about any other prescription or nonprescription medications that you are taking or any allergies that you have.
Always wash your hands before applying eye medication. Open the bottle or tube being careful that its tip does not touch anything. Pull your lower eyelid down with the tip of your finger and look up or into a mirror. Squeeze one drop or a quarter-inch ribbon of ointment into the bottom lid, trying not to touch your eyelid with the tip of the bottle or tube. Close your eye gently to allow the medication to absorb.
Ophthalmologists regularly see young patients and recreational athletes with eye injuries caused by sports. Ninety percent of these eye injuries are preventable with proper eye protection. Eye safety goggles especially designed for sports such as baseball, hockey or racquetball should be worn when participating in these sports. Many household chemicals, such as cleaning fluids, detergents and ammonia, are extremely hazardous and can burn the eye's delicate tissues. The majority of eye injuries are preventable using safety precautions. Stones, twigs, and other debris become dangerous projectiles after shooting out of the blades of a lawnmower and can injure eyes, including those of innocent bystanders. Before using a lawnmower, power trimmer or hedger, be sure to check for rocks and stones. When using pesticides around the yard, always point the spray-can nozzle away from your face.
If you receive a cut on or near your eye, bandage the eye lightly, then immediately seek medical attention. Do not attempt to wash out the eye or to remove objects that may be stuck in the eye or eyelid. Avoid applying pressure to the injured eye.
If you get something caught in your eye, pull the upper lid down over the lashes of the lower lid and blink a few times. This action allows the eye to wash itself out.
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