Since January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, it seems appropriate to consider some simple steps you can take in order to maintain optimal eyesight, even as you get older. In Water Valley and elsewhere around the country, some organizers will be doing their best to plan activities and events that point to the importance of regularly checking your eyesight. Most seniors, including senior home care professionals, frequently tend to take their eyesight for granted, and just assume it will always be there. But it won’t – at least, not without making a conscious effort to keep your eyes functioning normally, and providing you with all the sights there are to see in a beautifully diverse world. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the tests you should be taking when visiting the optometrist each year, and what those tests will show about the proficiency of your vision.
What does a normal eyesight exam include?
Typically, when you visit your eye doctor each year, he/she will be looking for some specific signs of change in your vision. Since records are kept about your vision at each of these meetings, it will be easy to compare your current vision with what you’ve been able to see in the past. This should point up any issues that have occurred since your last appointment, and it should show your doctor where to look for any problems. Generally speaking, when you have an appointment with your eye doctor, a test will be conducted to find any traces of diabetic retinopathy, astigmatism, amblyopia, presbyopia, myopia, and glaucoma. It’s always best if any issues are discovered as early as possible since treatment tends to be much more effective during the early stages of an issue.
Additional eyesight exams
In addition to the normal checks on your vision, sometimes an optometrist will also conduct other tests if he/she suspects that some underlying condition may be present. Here are some of the other vision checks your doctor might want to conduct:
- corneal topography – this procedure maps the cornea of the eye in detail. It can help pinpoint issues like astigmatism and any scarring, and it identifies any distortion from the normal curvature of the cornea.
- visual acuity testing – this is the exercise where you stand 20 ft. away from a chart containing letters, numbers, or symbols, and you’ll have to identify exactly what each symbol is on the chart.
- ultrasound – this test can be very useful in spotting things like some types of eye disease, retinal detachment, and any foreign substances or tumors. After numbing the eyes with eyedrops, the forward and rear portions of the eye are scanned for issues.
- visual field test – this test determines how well you can see the entire field of vision before you, and also checks on your peripheral vision. This is the test that involves flashing lights, which you will identify by pressing a button when you first see them.
- retinal tomography – this eye test takes a 3D image of your retina and the optic nerve. By conducting this test, a professional can get an early warning about a detached retina, hypertension, macular degeneration, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy.
- non-contact tonometry – this test is able to detect changes that occur in eye pressure, and that makes it essential for finding evidence of glaucoma. Sometimes, numbing eyedrops are applied to the patient’s eyes in order to conduct the test more fully.
- slit-lamp exam – this is actually a microscope that can shine a powerful light directly into a patient’s eyes. It allows your doctor to find any issues with the eye’s lens, cornea, iris, and the anterior chamber.
- refraction – this is a test you might take with your glasses or contacts on, and you’re asked to read the symbols on a chart about 20 ft. away. This can identify any changes in your vision since your last visit, so steps can be taken to correct any issues.
- dilated pupillary exam – your doctor will apply an eye drop that dilates the pupil so that the retina and optic nerve can be seen much more clearly. That helps to identify any issues with either the optic nerve or retina so that appropriate measures can be initiated.
How often should your eyes be checked?
Adults should have their vision checked annually, and seniors should have them checked either annually or bi-annually since rapid changes might take place in the interim. Children of school age and teens should have their vision checked at least once per year, and more often if your eye doctor feels it’s warranted. Children younger than age five will be checked for general development and a comprehensive eye exam is generally scheduled for sometime between the 3rd and 5th years. As always, the default of one year between checkups may have to be supplemented with more frequent checkups if any symptoms become apparent, and are deemed worthy of being monitored.