Routine eye exams are important even for people who are not experiencing eye trouble. These are in-depth procedures that are usually performed by either an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist. How often a person needs an eye exam depends on a number of factors including age, overall health and whether or not eye disorders run in the family.
Children with no eye trouble need only have their eyes checked during routine visits to their pediatrician. This evaluation is commonly referred as a vision screening and should take place at a minimum, every 2 years. A vision screening is not as comprehensive as an eye exam, but it is invaluable in detecting early signs of eye/vision trouble.
For adults without eye trouble, eyes should be examined one time between the ages of 20-29, two times during the next 10 years, 2-4 times during the next 10 years and after age 65, eyes should be examined once every 1-2 years. People wearing corrective lenses should have their eyes examined yearly. Those with eye disorders should work out an examination schedule with their eye doctors.
What to expect from an eye exam
Using a light source, an external examination ensures the eyes ‘look’ right. You’ll follow the doctor’s pen (or other object) with your eyes to ensure the eye muscles function properly. When you read the illuminated chart with letters that get smaller the further down you go, your doctor is checking your visual acuity. If you need corrective lenses, you’ll get a refractive assessment, a test that determines how light wave bend. The results of these tests help the doctor determine your prescription. He may put a Phoroptor, a device that resembles a big black mask, over your eyes in order to fine-tune these measurements.
Your peripheral vision will be tested. A slit lamp exam uses a microscope that emits a sharp beam of light to evaluate the cornea, lens and iris. The back of the eye is also examined and finally your eyes will be tested for glaucoma.
Ophthalmologist vs. Optometrist
The responsibilities and skills of an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist are usually different, yet most people mistakenly use these terms interchangeably. Both professions involve eye care however the primary difference between the two is the presence of a medical degree. It is this degree that designates an Ophthalmologist as a medical doctor who has been trained in all areas of eye care including the ability to diagnose and treat eye disorders and diseases.
Ophthalmologists are qualified to perform eye surgery and they also know how to take proper eye measurements so they can accurately prescribe corrective lenses. Their training helps them dispense advice for preventing blindness and also enables them to assist those who are blind. In addition to advanced educational training, Ophthalmologists must be trained in clinical and surgical settings.
Optometrists routinely perform eye examinations. During such eye examinations, Optometrists will also determine the need for, fit and prescribe corrective eyewear and/or lenses. Optometrists can also screen patients for certain eye disorders.