An eye exam helps detect eye problems at their earliest stage — when they're most treatable. Regular eye exams give your eye care professional a chance to help you correct or adapt to vision changes and provide you with tips on caring for your eyes.
Several factors may determine how frequently you need an eye exam, including your age, health and risk of developing eye problems. General guidelines are as follows:
Children 5 years and younger. For children under 3, your pediatrician will likely look for the most common eye problems — lazy eye, crossed eyes or turned-out eyes. Depending on your child's willingness to cooperate, he or she could undergo a more-comprehensive eye exam between the ages of 3 and 5.
School-age children and adolescents. Have your child's vision checked before he or she enters first grade. If your child has no symptoms of vision problems and no family history of vision problems, have his or her vision rechecked every one to two years. Otherwise, schedule eye exams based on the advice of your eye doctor.
Three kinds of eye specialists may perform an eye exam:
If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring them to your appointment. Your eye doctor will want to make sure your prescription is the best one for you. Also be prepared to remove your contacts or glasses during the exam. Tests that use dye (fluorescein) to temporarily color your eyes may permanently discolor your contact lenses, so you'll be asked to remove them for those tests.
If your eyes are dilated as a part of your eye exam, you may want to bring sunglasses to wear after your eye exam is complete, as daylight or other bright lights may be uncomfortable or cause blurred vision. Also, consider having someone else drive you home.
An eye exam usually involves these steps:
Part of the examination, such as taking your medical history and the initial eye test, may be performed by a clinical assistant.
Several different tests may be performed during the eye exam. The tests are designed to check your vision and to examine the appearance and function of all parts of your eyes.
At the end of your eye exam, you and your doctor will discuss the results of all testing, including an assessment of your vision, your risk of eye disease and preventive measures you can take to protect your eyesight.
Normal results from an eye exam include:
Your doctor may give you a prescription for corrective lenses. If your eye exam yields other abnormal results, your doctor will discuss with you next steps for further testing or for treating an underlying condition.