If you never had an eye examination, you’re not alone! A proportion of Australians never had their eyes looked at simply because they never encountered any issues with their vision. Your eyes are now getting tired with excessive computer use, or you realise that your near vision has become blurry recently may prompt you to get your eyes checked. But, what is expected during a comprehensive eye examination?
It is like going to your GP for a general health check.
Your optometrists are regarded as primary health care practitioners for your eyes, vision and ocular health. It serves as an excellent starting point to begin taking care of your eyes and eye health. If you have any issues related to your eyes, your optometrist can point you in the right direction, such as recommending and organising referrals to an eye specialist if required. Just like your GP visit, your optometrist will ask you a series of questions related to your ocular health, including family history and any relevant health conditions such as diabetes, which could affect your vision.
Checking Your Vision
You probably had your vision checked when you first got your driver’s licence. This involves reading letters of different sizes from a letter chart at a distance. You may have done this at some point in your GP’s office. The only difference is that a chart from an optometry office is highly calibrated to measure your vision precisely. So if you haven’t done well in your vision test at a GP office, their chart is often not calibrated correctly and may give you an impression your vision is weaker than it is.
You may have heard the term 20/20 vision as an annotation for normal vision. If your vision is worse than expected, we may check if lenses like glasses would help improve your vision. This process in determining whether you need glasses is called refraction assessment. You may have a prescription for different types of glasses, but whether you need them depends on your requirements and their potential benefits to your vision, it may provide. This entire procedure takes about 10 – 15 minutes.
Checking your Eye Health
Your eye health examination is part of the routine comprehensive eye examination. This is where we use specialised ophthalmic equipment to examine your eyes in great detail. All of this procedure is relatively non-invasive. You should expect to see some bright lights briefly and perhaps a camera flash to take detailed scans at the back of the eye. Or may a few puffs of air to the front part of the eye, like blowing out an eyelash. This allows your optometrist to screen for common eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, which all could have devastating permanent vision loss if left undetected. All this takes about 15-20 minutes.
Follow-up Appointments if Required
Sometimes, a follow-up appointment is required to check for consistency of results or monitoring changes to your eye health over time. Follow-up visits may be necessary if certain things are detected during the routine comprehensive eye examination. For example, your optic nerve may look slightly different than average, or your glasses prescription is relatively high. Your optometrist may use dilating eye drops during these follow-up appointments to expand your pupils. This allows your optometrist to have a detailed view of the retina. You may be asked to perform a visual function assessment such as visual fields to assess your peripheral or side vision. If a visual fields is required, then you’ll be asked to click buttons every time you see a flashing spot appearing in front of you whilst keeping your eyes still looking straight ahead.
The Bottom Line
Your first optometry visit is often a lot less painful than your routine trips to your dentist. You would expect to spend perhaps 30 – 45 minutes with your optometrist and maybe another 30 minutes should you decide to get glasses. Everyone should aim to have their eyes tested at least once in their life. An appointment with your optometrist today could be the single most important investment you can make for your vision for the rest of your life.