Eye tests are important health checks - the optometrist checks the overall health of your eyes and can find indications of several medical conditions. Many eye diseases are silent and asymptomatic, so regular eye check ups are a very important add-on to your to-do list.
Although there are hundreds of ways to test the eyes, you will only have to go through a few, tailored by the optometrist to suit your individual needs.
How does it work?
A routine eye examination is divided into four phases:
*External examination: to ease you in, the first test is an inspection of your eyelids, the tissue surrounding them and your general eye area. The optometrist will shine a light in your eye, make you look up and down to check on your iris and cornea, and sometimes he or she will run a finger over your orbital area (with the eyes closed!).
Visual acuity: this is your eye’s focus on detecting details and is in fact the best measure of your eyes’ ability to see images at different distances. You will have mostly likely had one or more of these exams before fitting for glasses or contacts. The letter chart, the colour-blind test and moving image tests are all used by different technicians as routine methods for this exam. Pupil function: an examination of your pupil function starts with inspecting the size of your pupils, their shape, reaction to light and air. *Ocular motility: this test focuses on checking for any deviation of the eyes’ seeing pattern, that could be traced to strabismus or muscular problems.
In some cases an ophthalmoscopy will be performed. Some people can be quite scared of anything getting close to their eyes, and an ophthalmoscope is a scary-looking and slightly uncomfortable device, but the exam is quick and painless. You’ll need to have your pupils dilated with eye drops, so you won’t be able to drive for about 4-6 hours afterwards. Always check when booking your appointment - if you are having an ophthalmoscopy, it is a good idea to bring a friend or relative along to guide you through the drop-induced mist.
Is it for me?
Eye tests are important for everybody. An eye exam should be performed at least once a year, and it’s recommended to have one up to 2-3 times a year for some people, such as the elderly, pregnant and breast-feeding women, young children and teens.
Good to know
For some tests you’ll need to have your pupils dilated with eye drops, so you won’t be able to drive for about 4-6 hours afterwards.