A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a painless procedure in which the ophthalmologist (Eye MD) examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help you protect your sight and make sure that you are seeing your best.
WHAT DOES A COMPREHENSIVE DILATED EYE EXAM INCLUDE?
A comprehensive eye examination includes: dilation, tonometry, visual acuity test, refraction, and visual field test (optional).
Drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. Your ophthalmologist then uses a special magnifying lens, called a slit lamp, to examine your retina to look for signs of damage and other eye problems, such as diabetic retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration. A dilated exam also allows your doctor to check for damage to the optic nerve that occurs when a person has glaucoma. After the examination, your near-vision may remain blurred for several hours.
This test helps to detect glaucoma by measuring the fluid pressure within the eye. The ophthalmologist or technician measures this by gently applying a pressure-sensitive tip near or against the eye. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test. Elevated pressure within the eye may be a possible sign of glaucoma.
VISUAL ACUITY TEST
This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
Refraction involves a series of tests performed by the ophthalmologist or ophthalmic technician to measure your refractive error. The results of these tests allow the ophthalmologist to determine the power of prescription lenses necessary to restore normal, clearly-focused vision.
VISUAL FIELD TEST
This test measures your peripheral, or side vision. The loss of peripheral vision is a sign of glaucoma.
Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina. The length of the eyeball (longer or shorter), changes in the shape of the cornea, or aging of the lens can cause refractive errors.
The most common types of refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism:
- Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition where objects up close appear clearly, while objects far away appear blurry. With myopia, light comes to focus in front of the retina instead of on the retina.
- Hyperopia (farsightedness) is a common type of refractive error where distant objects may be seen more clearly than objects that are near. However, people experience hyperopia differently. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. For people with significant hyperopia, vision can be blurry for objects at any distance, near or far.
- Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This can cause images to appear blurry and stretched out.
- Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the ability to focus up close becomes more difficult. As the eye ages, the lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus close objects clearly.
Refractive errors can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery:
- Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct refractive errors. Your ophthalmologist can prescribe appropriate lenses to correct your refractive error and give you optimal vision.
- Contact Lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses provide clearer vision, a wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. It is very important to wash your hands and clean your lenses as instructed in order to reduce the risk of infection. If you have certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses.
- Refractive Surgery aims to change the shape of the cornea permanently. This change in eye shape restores the focusing power of the eye by allowing the light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision. There are many types of refractive surgeries. The refractive surgery specialists at Pacific Northwest Eye Associates can help you decide if surgery is an option for you.