What Should I Expect at an Eye Exam?

As many as 16 million Americans have undiagnosed vision impairments. This may be because they’ve just never made eye health a priority.

Eye exams shouldn’t be a negotiable part of your health care. Both adults and kids benefit from regular check-ups of their vision. Plus, the eyes are subject to disease and can be a window into other conditions, like diabetes, that affect your entire health. During an eye exam, your provider may spot the early warning signs of diabetes, arthritis, or high blood pressure.

South Plains Rural Health Services offers comprehensive health care services to people in and around Levelland, Lamesa, and Big Spring, Texas. Optometry services are part of our offerings. Just in case it’s been a while since you’ve had an eye exam, here’s what to expect during your visit.

You’ll give a thorough medical history

If this is your first visit to our eye doctor, or our practice, you’ll be asked questions about your personal and family medical and, in particular, vision history. If you’ve been to our offices before, we may confirm some information that’s already in your record and ask if there’s any new information we should know.

The technician may ask if you’re having any symptoms of eye or vision problems or have had any in the past, whether you wear corrective lenses, or if you suffer from any allergies. We’ll want to know if you’re on any medications and if you have a chronic health problem, like diabetes or hypertension. 

It’s also important for us to know if anyone in your family has had macular degeneration, glaucoma, retinal detachments, or other eye problems. If you’ve had eye surgery, even LASIK, we want to know.

You’ll undergo vision testing

Even if you already wear corrective lenses and feel comfortable with them, your doctor will test your visual acuity with the use of an eye chart. You’ll cover one eye as you identify numbers or letters on a chart displayed at some distance from you.

Sometimes, you think you see just fine, but changes in your vision have happened so gradually that you don’t even notice that your eyesight isn’t as crisp as it could be. An eye exam makes you aware of these changes, so you can get any corrective lenses needed.

You may have a refraction eye exam

If it’s determined you need corrective lenses or a change in your lens prescription, you’ll undergo a refraction eye exam. You’ll look into a machine that displays different lens fields. The doctor switches the lens in front of each eye and asks for your feedback as to which offers the best clarity. This helps the doctor determine the best prescription for you.

We’ll measure your eye pressure

Normally, your eyes maintain a stable pressure when it comes to your eye fluid, or aqueous humor. If fluid builds up, pressure inside your eye rises, and you experience damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma, for example, develops because of too much eye pressure.

Eye pressure is measured using tonometry. Often this is done by applying a brief puff of air, but another test is considered more accurate. During this specific test, you’ll be given eye drops to numb your eyes temporarily.

The doctor then gently touches the front surface of your eye with a device that glows with a blue light to apply a small amount of pressure to the eye. This device reads the measure of pressure inside each eye to reveal if you’re at risk of glaucoma, a major cause of blindness.

We check the entire health of your eye

The doctor also peers inside your eye using a light to evaluate the front and the insides. They’ll look from multiple angles and use different light types to identify any areas of possible concern.

After your exam, your provider from South Plains Rural Health Services discusses the results of all your testing and provides an assessment of your vision. They’ll explain the next steps you should take if you’re at risk of eye disease or if you have unusual signs that would benefit from a review from another on-staff physician. 

If you need a prescription for corrective lenses, they’ll also provide you with the appropriate documentation so that you can get glasses or contacts that are right for you.

How long does an eye exam take?

A comprehensive eye exam that includes vision tests, checks for vision problems, and assessment for eye disease may take one to two hours. If you’ve never been to the eye doctor before, this type of exam is a good idea. It’s also smart to have a comprehensive eye exam once every year or two.

Diagnostic or follow-up eye exams last just 30 minutes to an hour. 

Your eye health is critical to your overall wellbeing. Schedule your next eye exam with the skilled team at South Plains Rural Health Services, so you can see crisply and preserve your vision and health for the long-term. Call one of the locations, or use the online tool to make an appointment. 

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