Vision Screenings Are Not Eye Exams

There’s a big difference between vision screenings and eye exams: the former is designed to detect major vision problems and quickly and cost-effectively as possible, and the latter is a full-scale evaluation of vision, eye health, and potential health risks related to the eyes. Eye exams are the better choice by far, as they give you the bigger picture on the state of your eyes, and offer preventative measures that ensure your eyes are in great shape for years to come.

What to Expect at Your Eye Exam

Whether you’re visiting the eye doctor to update your contacts or glasses prescription, if there has been a change in your vision, or simply because it’s been a couple of years since your last exam, the process will typically be the same. If you are experiencing pain or changes in vision, you may be given specific tests, but here’s generally what you can expect during your appointment.

Personal and Family Health History

Before any actual tests, an optometrist will ask you questions about your family’s medical history — if anyone has had problems with macular degeneration, glaucoma, or retinal detachments, or has a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, or other heart-related issues — as well as ask about your own history. He or she will also ask if you need an update to your prescription.

During the Exam

There are several types of eye exams, including:

  • Eye Muscle Test: You will follow an object with your eyes and the eye doctor will evaluate the muscles that control the eye.
  • Visual Acuity Test: The typical eye exam test where you cover one eye and read from a chart that is across the room with letters in descending size. You may also be asked to read from a card that is held at reading distance.
  • Refraction Assessment: This is done in order to test whether or not you have a refractive error and will need contacts or glasses. This is done using a technique called retinoscopy, when a light is shined into your eye.
  • Visual Field Test (Perimetry): This measures how strong your peripheral vision is.

Will There be an Air Puff Test? And Will My Eyes be Dilated?

Dr. Sina and his team often get these questions. Both the air puff test and having your pupils dilated can be uncomfortable for many patients, but the good news is that technology has advanced so that these procedures are not often necessary. However, it does depend on the reason for your eye exam and what parts of the eye need to be tested. When you call to schedule an appointment, feel free to ask whether or not these tests will be given.

Overall, eye exams are nothing to worry about and your eye doctor will ensure that you feel comfortable throughout the appointment. If at any time you feel scared or nervous, just say stop and we’ll give you some time to ask any questions you have or to discuss any concerns.