Thomas Eye Group ophthalmologists and optometrists work together to provide exceptional care for our patients.
People without a personal or family history of eye problems should schedule routine eye exams every two or three years. As we age, our risk increases for common eye and medical diseases; therefore, having an annual eye exam is very important. People with diabetes or a family history of eye disease should have their eyes examined at least once a year.
For people who already wear glasses and contacts, a yearly exam is especially important. Most contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions that are more than two years old are considered expired and will not be filled without an exam.
When you arrive for your appointment, your doctor will ask you about your personal medical history. We consider your age, medical history, and family history to determine which tests are needed to assess your eye health.
Your doctor will check your eye’s reaction to light, pupil size, eye alignment, muscle balance, and how your eyes move.
Eyes are evaluated using light and handheld lenses. Your doctor will most likely use a microscope called a slit-lamp to evaluate the health of your eyes. Dilating eye drops are often used to enlarge the pupil and give your doctor a better view of the inside your eye. Sometimes retinal imaging is performed in lieu of dilation and can provide your doctor just as clear a view to the retina or in many cases, even better than dilation. Ophthalmoscopy is painless, but if eye drops are used, your vision may become temporarily blurred and sensitive to light for several hours after your examination.
A routine eye exam begins by measuring your visual acuity (how well you see at different distances). By using the Snellen chart (a chart of letters or numbers of different sizes) and performing refraction (better 1-or-2?) to see how your eyes bend light to focus the picture properly, your doctor can determine your best vision. The degree to which you may not have a normal vision is called your refractive error. Your eyeglasses and contact lens prescriptions correct your refractive error. Common types of refractive errors are myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism (varying steepness in the shape of the front of he eyeball).
Your visual field is how wide of an area your eye can see when you focus on a central point. To test your peripheral vision (how you see what is not directly in front of you) your doctor will have you close one eye and detect movement (usually your doctor’s finger moving around your center of vision) with your open eye looking directly in front of you. Doctors use visual field testing to check for abnormal blind spots, macular degeneration, and changes in the optic nerve, as well as detect stroke or brain trauma and other medical and eye diseases such as glaucoma.
20/20 is considered normal vision. The first number never changes because patients always view a Snellen eye chart from 20 feet away. What does change is the second number, which tells us how well someone can read the letters on the Snellen chart at 20 feet away. The larger the second number, the weaker the vision.
For example, if you have 20/40 vision, it means you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 40 feet. Even though 20/20 means normal vision, it doesn’t necessarily mean perfect vision. Some people can see well at a distance but are unable to bring closer objects into focus because of farsightedness or loss of focusing ability.
Normal results for a patient are 20/20 vision, no color deficiency, no signs of disease such as glaucoma or diabetes, and normal optic nerve, retinal vessels, and fundus (inside back surface of the eye). Your doctor will usually correct vision with glasses or contact lenses. However, if routine exam findings indicate eye disease, trauma, blockages, or damage, your doctor may conduct further testing to develop a treatment plan.
A routine eye exam takes place when you come in for an eye examination without any medical eye problem and your eyes are examined for any necessary visual correction, and thoroughly screened for any potential eye disease. A routine exam is often covered by your vision insurance plan.
A medical eye exam is the examination, treatment, and management of an eye condition or disease such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration, as well as other potentially sight-threatening diseases or injuries. A medical exam can be filed with your medical insurance carrier.
Some vision plans do not cover medical exams, and some medical plans do not cover routine eye exams. At Thomas Eye Group, our routine and medical exams involve refraction. Most insurance carriers do not cover the refraction portion of the exam. Please check with your insurance company to determine coverage.