A comprehensive eye exam is an exam that includes assessments of vision as well as the eye's external and internal structure. Dilating eye drops are used in a comprehensive eye exam to make it easier to see the back portion of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve head that sends visual signals to the brain. Comprehensive eye exams include assessment of visual acuity (how clearly the eye sees at different distances), peripheral vision, depth perception, eye tracking and other functions that can affect vision and eye health. Also, the exam will include simple tests to check for the presence of eye diseases like macular degeneration, macular dystrophy, and glaucoma. If a vision problem is identified, additional tests can determine the prescription of lenses needed to achieve the optimal vision in each eye.
There are two primary ways to test for glaucoma. One uses a tiny puff of air that “bounces” off the eye to return a pressure measurement. The second test uses a special device that rests just on the surface of the eye to measure the pressure directly. Numbing drops are placed in the eye first to eliminate discomfort.
Adults should have their eye examined every few years in their 20s and 30s and again at age 40, at which time a recommended schedule of ongoing assessments can be made based on existing risk factors, including age. Patients with a personal or family history of eye diseases or vision problems may need to be seen more frequently. Eye exams should also be performed if any issues develop with vision or if symptoms like chronic headaches develop.
Floaters are little squiggly lines that float across the field of vision, especially when looking at bright lights. A few floaters are normal, but excessive floaters can be a sign of a serious eye issue and should be evaluated right away.
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