The Importance of Routine Eye Exams

Routine eye exams are important in detecting problems with your sight. Many diseases can be present in your eyes before you are aware they exist. There are a number of eye diseases that have no symptoms in their early stages, including:

  • Glaucoma
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Diabetic Retinopathy (Diabetic Eye Disease)

If problems are detected early, treatment can be offered to help preserve vision and prevent further vision loss.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends timely screening for the detection of eye problems in adults without risk factors for eye disease:

Comprehensive Medical Eye Evaluation For Adults With No Risk Factors
65 or older Every 1 - 2 years
55 - 64 Every 1 - 3 years
40 - 54 Every 2 - 4 years
Under 40 5 - 10 years

What To Expect During A Comprehensive Eye Exam

A complete eye exam will typically last about one hour from the time you enter the exam room. Your entire medical, ocular, family, and social history will be reviewed as well as your current medications. The examination will start with a measurement of your vision that will include a check to see if prescription glasses are needed. Your eye pressure will also be measured, as well as your pupils, eye muscles, and side vision.

You will then be given eye drops that will dilate your pupils. These drops take about 15-20 minutes to work. They may make your eyes light sensitive and difficult to focus, especially up close, for several hours.

Your doctor will then shine several lights into your eyes, using both an eye microscope and indirect ophthalmoscope. These instruments allow for a thorough examination of the various parts that make up both the outside and inside of your eyes.

Additional testing, including specialized imaging, may also be required to further evaluate any abnormal findings on your exam. At the completion of your visit, your doctor will then review your results.

Follow-Up Care

Follow-up visits can vary greatly depending on the findings of your exam. A person with a normal exam that only requires glasses may be seen every 1-2 years. Conditions, such as glaucoma, may require follow-up as frequent as every 3 months. Your doctor will discuss the plan for follow-up care at the end of your visit.


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