Even if you’ve never had an eye exam (and if you haven’t, you definitely should rush to your nearest ophthalmologist), you probably know some of the procedures – reading a chart of increasingly smaller alphabets kept at a distance, the eye doctor plugging in different powered lenses into a large, menacing looking apparatus. As a child, an eye exam filled me with a particular sense of dread and I don’t think I’ve ever been over that.
So what exactly is an eye exam?
It is essentially a series of tests performed by an ophthalmologist, designed to ascertain a patient’s ocular health status. These tests may range from determining the strength and health of eye sight (i.e. whether you can see clearly without needing glasses), determining the power of your eyes (if you need glasses), testing for any common eye diseases, and checking for conditions such as color blindness, irregular curvature of the lens, etc.
An eye exam should be performed only by a trained ophthalmologist. An optometrist may also conduct an eye exam, but that would be limited to determining the power of your eye.
Regular eye exams are recommended by all doctors as most eye diseases are asymptomatic. Further, many serious illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. may manifest themselves as ocular defects. Thus, they may help in diagnosing other serious diseases early, paving the path for easier treatment.
An eye test typically begins with an examination of the external features of the eyes, such as the eyelids, the cornea, sclera (the white part of the eye), etc. After that, the examination moves into a visual acuity test (i.e. a test of the eye’s power and ability to focus on near and far objects – the test you are probably most familiar with).
The next test is a Pupil function test to determine the health of the pupil and detect any damage (physical, neurological etc.). After this, an eye exam may include a test of ocular motility (i.e. testing the eye’s ability to follow quickly moving objects, usually carried out when patients complain of double vision), and a test of the visual field. There may be several other tests depending on your own ocular health.
Eye exam costs may differ from state to state and city to city. Typically, an eye exam may cost anything from $50 to $300 depending on the range of tests done. Costs may be even higher if a patient is found to be suffering from any serious ocular condition that requires extensive testing.
Many people tend to ignore regular eye tests, despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular complete body check-ups. As I’ve said before in this article, these can often reveal the existence of far more serious medical conditions, so it is imperative for the sake of your eyes as well as your body to get undergo regular eye exams.