Why is it important to have a comprehensive eye exam regularly?

Keeping an eye on your vision requires different care and attention at different stages of life. Even when we are young, we should do a comprehensive eye check-up regularly as eye problems can be present at any age. 

Did you know some eye diseases such as glaucoma have no symptoms? Having a regular eye check-up gives you the best chance to diagnose any underlying eye diseases. Your eye doctor can also help to evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your general well-being.

What is the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam?

Vision screenings are basic eye tests to help recognize any issues with your vision, but it does not test for any underlying eye diseases. Usually, it checks for basic refractive errors such as myopia, astigmatism, and hyperopia.

A comprehensive eye exam performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist involves a thorough examination of all aspects of your vision. Your eye doctor will be able to diagnose visual health issues and ocular conditions that are otherwise unable to be determined by vision screening.

What to expect from a comprehensive eye exam?

History Taking

Your eye care professional will ask for your background and health history as existing medical conditions may increase the potential risk of developing certain eye diseases.

Visual Acuity Test

This is a test to measure how well you can see in different distances by asking you whether you can see numbers and letters of varying sizes using an eye chart.

Refraction

This is a test to measure your type and degree of refractive error to determine your exact eyeglasses prescription.

Eye Pressure Test

Usually done with a tonometer, this test measures your eye pressure that checks for glaucoma: an eye condition that can cause vision loss due to built-up eye pressure damaging the eye’s optic nerve.

Check the front of your eyes: Slit Lamp Test

The front part of your eyes will be examined under high magnification to detect any abnormalities such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Check the back of your eyes: Retinal Imaging / Fundus Examination

A high resolution, wide-angle picture of your retina will be captured to detect any abnormalities such as retinal detachment in the back part of your eyes

Assessment and Management

After the eye exam, your eye care professional will advise you on the test results and steps needed if abnormalities are detected.

A comprehensive eye exam may involve more tests depending on your ocular conditions but these are the most common and will help cover a wide spectrum of eye diseases.

Babies (Age 6 months onwards)

Ensure that your child’s eyes are screened during regular pediatric appointments and they are free from common childhood eye conditions and diseases.

Children and Teenagers (Age 3 to 19)

Ensure that your child has a thorough eye check every 1-2 years during routine health check-ups or when getting fitted for corrective eyewear, such as for myopia.

Young Adults (Age 20 to 39)

Have a comprehensive eye examination if you have a family history of eye disease or if you are suffering from an eye injury.

Adults and Seniors (Age 40 onwards)

Eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration are more likely to occur as we grow older. To monitor vision changes, you should get a baseline eye disease screening when you are 40 and ask the doctor to assess how often you need to return for follow-up screenings.

For Anyone with Risk Factors

If you have a risk factor for eye disease (Diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of eye disease), you should see your eye doctor annually. Ask your eye doctor for the ideal interval between check-ups.

Source: healthprofessionals.gov.sg

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