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Why are Yearly Eye Exams Important?

January 1, 2022

Comprehensive eye exams are the key to maintaining healthy eyes and good vision. Many eye and vision problems have no signs or symptoms, so you may not realize there is a problem until your sight is affected. However, vision problems are not the only reason you should keep your yearly eye exam. During that exam, your optometrist will perform a variety of small tests to monitor the health of your eyes and look for potential eye diseases. 

What test will my Optometrist use? 

During your eye exam your doctor will check for common eye diseases, test how your eyes work as a team and evaluate your overall health by looking at problems within or near your eyes.  

Your optometrist will determine the vision tests that are best for you, but many adult eye exams include some combination of the following: 

Preliminary Tests 

  • Your eye doctor may first want to look at your visual function and eye health. Preliminary tests may include evaluations of peripheral or side vision, depth perception, eye muscle movements, how your pupils react to light, and color vision. 

Visual Acuity Measurements 

  • Visual acuity measurements evaluate how clearly each eye is seeing. The most common way to test this is through the use of a reading chart. 

Keratometry 

  • The keratometry test is used to determine the curvature of your cornea. If you wear contact lenses your doctor may perform this test to make sure your contacts fit properly. Measurement is done by focusing a circle of light on your cornea to measure its reflection.  

Refraction 

  • Your doctor will use refraction to determine the lens power needed to compensate for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. They will place a series of lenses in front of your eyes and measure how these lenses focus light. Your optometrist may also choose to use an instrument that automatically evaluates the focusing power of your eye. The lens power is then refined based on your choice of lenses that give you the clearest vision. 

Eye Focusing 

  • This test determines how well your eyes focus, move, and work together. It helps your doctor see problems that keep your eyes from focusing effectively or prevents them from working well together.  

Who Should Have A Yearly Eye Exam? 

Everyone should have a yearly eye exam, even if you have good vision. Not only can yearly eye exams keep your glasses/contact prescription current, but it also allows for early detection of eye diseases and vision problems. 

Children should  get yearly eye exams as their symptoms are often mild or they do not know that they have poor vision. A yearly eye exam will help your eye doctor determine if your child needs glasses or may be at risk for certain types of eye diseases. 

If you have naturally good vision or have had LASIK eye surgery, you should still get a yearly eye exam. An annual exam creates a history of your eye health while offering preventative eye care. 

I Had a Vision Screening, Do I Still Need An Eye Exam? 

A vision screening is not a replacement for an eye exam. Current vision screening methods cannot be relied on to effectively identify people who need vision care. In some cases, vision screening may inhibit the early diagnosis of vision problems. Vision screenings can create a false sense of security for those individuals who “pass” the screening but who still may have a vision problem.  

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