There is much more to an eye examination than just reading some letters. It is a thorough health check of the eyes and can also identify general health conditions. An examination usually consists of the following elements:
History and Symptoms
It is important for us to know what has prompted you to have an eye examination – is it just time for a check-up or have you been experiencing any problems or concerns? If there are any concerns, we will ask you a few questions about these to help us pinpoint what is causing the problems, for example whether it is affecting one eye or both, and when you first noticed the problem.
Information about your general health is also very useful as some eye problems can be linked to systemic conditions. It is equally useful to know what medications you are on as certain types can affect the eyes.
We will ask whether you have had any previous eye problems, for example any injuries or if you have required any treatment for your eyes. We will also ask if any eye conditions, such as glaucoma, run in the family. Certain eye conditions can be hereditary – it does not mean that you will definitely develop the disease but it can put you at an increased risk and often you will be monitored more closely.
It is also useful to know your occupation, whether or not you drive, and whether you have any particular hobbies, to help us work out your individual visual requirements.
We usually measure your vision by determining the smallest line of letters you can read on a letter chart. We also have picture charts or ‘letter-matching’ for children or those who are unsure of letters.
We work out your prescription by asking you to choose between a series of lenses to see which ones give you the clearest possible vision. If you do not notice a lot of difference between some of the lenses don’t worry – we always double check things to ensure we have the right answer!
We do have other means of working out the prescription for children or those who are unable to communicate.
Eye movements and co-ordination are checked to ensure that the eyes are working together and in synch with each other. If there is any imbalance of the muscles this can lead to eyestrain or blurred vision, particularly after concentrated tasks. It can also lead to double vision in some circumstances.
We examine both the external and the internal of your eyes to ensure they are completely healthy. We normally use an instrument called a ‘slit lamp’ to do this. We also recommend Digital Retinal Imaging which allows us to examine much more of the retina (the light sensitive layer on the back inner surface of the eyes), and in much more detail than we can otherwise see with our more traditional methods of examination. As well as identifying eye-related problems, general health concerns may also be raised by examining the eyes – systemic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol can cause changes to your eyes.
Additional tests will depend on the individual patient but often include checking the pressure inside the eyes. We test this as an increased pressure inside the eyes can damage the optic nerve, a condition known as glaucoma. Usually the increase in pressure does not cause any symptoms so we often check this routinely. Other tests may include checking visual fields (peripheral vision) or the OCT.
There are a number of other tests available – each individual person will have different requirements in an eye examination depending on symptoms, family history, age or other findings throughout the examination.
After the eye examination
We will discuss all aspects of the examination with you – we will explain any changes to your vision and advise when to use glasses. We will also advise you of any health concerns we may have noted or whether any further eye tests are required.
If new glasses are required, you will then see one of our dispensers. They specialise in the different types of lenses that are available and will ensure you have the right lenses for your individual visual requirements. They will also give advice when choosing frames and make any adjustments that are required to ensure it is fitting you well.