Why it is Important to Get Annual Eye Exams

Sep 7, 2020

When was the last time you had an eye exam? Can’t remember? The health of your eyes can be an indicator of your overall health and help diagnose other serious health conditions, and your annual eye exam will help you to see well into your old age. Below you’ll discover what a comprehensive eye exam tests for, why it’s important to make your appointment and how to prepare.

Vision Screenings vs. Eye Exams

Vision screenings are often given in schools or during driver license renewals to test for vision problems. They are a basic screening of the eyes and detect if people are having trouble with near or farsightedness. They are often conducted by a nurse or trained professional and can be used to determine if someone needs to go to an optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam.

At an eye exam, you will visit with an optometrist who is a doctor that is specially trained to examine the eyes, visual test systems for defects or abnormalities, and make medical diagnoses of, and treatment for, eye diseases. On top of vision screening, you will also undergo more complex testing, such as examinations using a high-powered lens to see the tiny structures inside of your eyes.

Types of Eye Tests During an Annual Eye Exam

There are some eye examinations that the optometrist may conduct during your eye exam. Some of the most routine tests include:

  1. Visual Acuity Tests: The same as during a vision screening, you are tested on the sharpness of your vision.
  2. Color blindness test: A screening that will rule out color blindness.
  3. Eye Movements (ocular motility) Test: This is the one where they have you follow an object with your eyes to test for smooth eye movements.
  4. Depth Perception Test: This helps determine if you’re having problems in 3D space. Can you correctly determine with an object is closer to you?
  5. Slit Lamp Exam: Here the doctor will be able to examine the structure of your eyes, including the eyelids, iris, conjunctiva, cornea, lens, retina and optic nerve (see early detection of eye problems below).
  6. Glaucoma Test: This test first checks the pressure in your eye, which helps to identify signs of glaucoma (an eye disorder that causes damage to the optic nerve and can cause irreversible vision loss).
  7. Retinoscopy, Refraction, Autorefractors and Aberrometers: All means and methods to determine your eyeglass prescription.

Early Detection of Eye Diseases

Regardless of what type of doctor you visit, it’s important to schedule regular checkups to detect early signs of disease or other health conditions. You shouldn’t treat your eyes any differently. There are many eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, that have no noticeable symptoms in their early stages. Thus, it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least every 1-2 years to rule out potential eye diseases or conditions that can cause permanent vision loss.

Detection of Other Health Problems

Whether you love clichés or not, we’ve all heard the saying that “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Well, potential love stories and inner spiritual journeys aside, they are most definitely a window into your overall health.

There have been numerous instances of optometrists identifying health issues that may not have been noticed if patients had not gone for their annual eye exam. Eye doctors have been known to identify tumors, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in patients that didn’t even know they had any health problems. That’s because the eyes provide a clear view of your blood vessels, arteries, and cranial nerve, all of which can tell your eye doctor a lot about your overall health.

Other Reasons to Schedule an Eye Exam

Besides ensuring you schedule your annual eye exam, there are scenarios in which you should make an appointment with your optometrist. Contact your eye doctor, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased vision
  • Draining or redness of the eye
  • Eye pain
  • Double vision
  • Diabetes
  • Floaters (tiny specks that appear to float before your eyes)
  • Circles (halos) around lights
  • Flashes of light

How to Prepare for Your Eye Exam

When you call to make your appointment, it’s important to mention if you’re currently experiencing any vision problems. The receptionist can answer any immediate questions or concerns you might have. Otherwise, you can create a list of issues you want to ask the doctor and be ready to provide them with the names of any medications you take and the history of your eye health (including your family’s history).

If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to bring them along. It’s a good idea to bring sunglasses as well (even if it’s not sunny outside) for the trip home. The doctor may use eye drops to open up your pupils to examine your eyes. This will cause your eyes to be sensitive to light afterward.

Schedule your Annual Eye Exam Today

Is it time for you to schedule your annual eye examination? One Hour Optical, located in West Des Moines, is the friendly and experienced eye care team you’re looking for. Comprehensive eye exams, the wide selection of designer eyewear and insurance plans accepted.

Call 515-218-9926 to book your appointment.