The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommend annual comprehensive eye exams for everyone and a complete eye exam annually after age 40 to help protect vision and identify other health concerns. When you schedule an eye exam with your optometrist or ophthalmologist, you can expect a thorough inspection of your eyes and testing of your vision. A routine visit may include a few or all of these exams:
- Visual acuity tests
- Color blindness test
- Cover test (alignment)
- Ocular motility testing
- Stereopsis test (depth perception)
- Retinoscopy (corrective lense testing)
- Refraction (prescription determination)
- Slit lamp exam
- Glaucoma test (air-puff test)
- Visual field test
- Optical coherence tomography
- Fluorescein angiography
- Tonometry (pressure test)
While this may seem like a lot, you may be reassured to know that many of these tests take less than a minute and they are usually all performed sequentially as part of one exam and the entire process generally takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. For the most part, not all patients receive all of these tests. What should also be reassuring is that if your eye doctor is performing these exams, they can reveal a lot about not only your vision, but also your overall health.
Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health
Your eyes are the keys to exploring your universe by looking out from within. However, when your eye doctor looks into your eyes, they also hold the secrets to your overall health and can hide some pretty big health indicators in plain sight. Your eyes are affected by nearly everything that happens in your body and an exam can show what your eyes have been exposed to.
Sometimes it is undiagnosed diabetes or poorly controlled diagnosed diabetes that gets patients in the door for an eye exam. This is because diabetes causes a variety of vision changes and threatens permanent vision loss or blindness. In other cases, however, an eye exam may be the first clue that a patient may have a diabetic concern. Diabetes is a serious health concern that causes abnormal glucose metabolism and has an impact on nearly every organ in the body. In a comprehensive eye exam, an ophthalmologist can detect diabetes when they visualize the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Common eye exam findings that indicate diabetes include swelling of the macula and/ or blot hemorrhaging. Diabetic eye disease is a complication of uncontrolled blood sugars and may include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma. If your eye doctor refers you to your primary care provider or an endocrinologist, it is important to follow-up right away. To learn more about how diabetes can affect your vision, visit this online resource.
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