Regular eye exams with your optometrist are one of the best ways to protect the long-term health of your eyes and vision. However, there is a lot of confusion surrounding eye exams, due to the various names that are used to describe consultations.
Among these are, but are not limited to:
– Vision tests and screenings
– Medical eye examinations
– Routine vision examinations
– Comprehensive eye examinations
– Eye health examinations
Many people assume that all eye tests are the same, but it is not the case. So, what is the distinction between a vision test and an eye health exam?
What is a vision test?
The primary goal of a vision test is to determine whether you have a vision impairment such as a refractive eye problem. Refractive eye errors are exceedingly common, accounting for over 13 million cases in Australia. Myopia, often known as short-sightedness, is the most common. A patient with myopia can clearly see items close to their face, while those further away appear fuzzy or distorted. Hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia are examples of other refractive eye issues.
Refractive errors occur when light in the eye is not correctly focussed on the light-sensitive cells at the rear of the eye. This makes the information transmitted to your brain look blurred and/or distorted, making it difficult, if not impossible, to focus on them. Other symptoms associated with refractive eye conditions include glare, halos surrounding light sources, headaches, and eye strain.
A vision test will determine how well you see at various distances and if glasses or contact lenses could be beneficial. If that’s the case, your optometrist will provide a prescription and arrange your corrective eyewear. If you choose glasses, you will be advised on the best type of lenses and frames based on your needs. Similarly, if you choose contact lenses, you will be counselled on the best contact lenses for your needs and given a contact lens fitting to make sure that your lenses are simple and easy to wear.
A standard vision test usually takes less than 30 minutes.
What is a comprehensive eye exam?
The difference between a vision test and a comprehensive eye exam is significant due to the fact that your optometrist will not only check for refractive eye errors but will also assess the overall health of your eyes by assessing you for eye disease. The specific procedures that will be performed during your complete eye exam may vary from one optometrist to another, but in general, you can expect to have the following tests performed on you:
– visual acuity testing, similar to the one that is carried out during a vision test
– binocular vision assessment to assess how your eyes work as a team
– evaluation of your depth perception
– eye motility assessment, which evaluates the movement of the eyes
– examination using a slit lamp, which enables your optometrist to inspect the external aspect of your eyes and identify any anomalies that may be present
– retinal examination, to assess for any internal eye health issues
– intraocular eye pressure assessment, which involves measuring the internal pressure of your eyes, which is commonly raised with eye diseases such as glaucoma
The tests that are performed during a complete eye exam should not cause any discomfort, and your optometrist will go through what to anticipate and why each test is necessary with you before beginning. If you have comprehensive eye exams on a regular basis, your optometrist will have a better chance of detecting any of the many common eye disorders that have the potential to impact the health of your eyes and your vision. Glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, keratoconus, and binocular vision impairment are only some of the conditions that fall under this category. If you catch them in the early stages, you have a better chance of preventing any damage to your eyesight or your overall eye health.
The majority of optometrists advise patients to get comprehensive eye exams at least once every two years. However, if you already have an eye issue, or depending on your age, your optometrist may ask you to return for exams more frequently than that.