A Comprehensive Eye Exam includes Spectacle Prescription Optimization, an evaluation of how your eyes work together (ie your Binocular Vision status) and it also includes an extensive look at the health of your eyes. For adults, a regular eye exam is an important part of maintaining your overall health and making your vision last a lifetime. Without an eye exam, critical health issues can be overlooked until it’s too late.
Our eyes change as we age. In particular, people over the age of 40 may be at an increased risk for age-related eye conditions, some of which may have no visible symptoms until the condition is advanced and difficult, or even impossible, to treat.
Dilation & Why It’s Important
Routine Dilated Fundus Examinations are very important to evaluate the health of your retina and the back of your eye. The Optometrist will decide if dilation is necessary based on the results of your exam, your age, your eye health and the risks of developing any eye diseases.
For example, it is recommended for diabetics to have a dilation once a year but for someone with no prescription or eye health concerns, routine dilation may be recommended every 2-4 years. Dilation drops enlarge the pupil to have a thorough look at the structures at the back of the eye; the view is quite limited and not all structures can be seen without the drops.
The main side effects include blur at near (depending on your spectacle prescription), some blur at distance as well as light sensitivity. Some people feel comfortable driving however if you are unsure, it is recommended to bring a driver or wait a few hours until you feel safe to drive. The effects of the drops usually last between 2-4 hours but can be longer depending on the person. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses!
The most common eye problems among adults include:
Presbyopia: a natural effect of aging in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time. Presbyopia can cause headaches, blurred vision, and the need for more light or sore eyes.Cataracts: distorted or cloudy vision caused by the lens inside the eye losing its transparency over time. Cataracts can require changes to your glasses or surgical removal.
Diabetic Retinopathy: a weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the retina of your eye, and the growth of new blood vessels resulting in blood leakage and other changes. If left untreated, blindness can result. Macular degeneration: a disease that results in degenerative changes to your central vision, and is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults.
Glaucoma: a “silent thief” that often has no symptoms until significant damage has occurred. Glaucoma is caused by elevated pressure within the eye, and can lead to serious vision loss if not detected and treated at an early stage.Your eyes are also windows to your overall health, and an eye exam can also uncover underlying—and life-threatening—health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain vascular diseases and brain or eye tumors.
Adults aged 19 to 64 should have an eye exam at least every two years, and people with diabetes should have an exam at least once a year. Other health conditions assessed by your Doctor of Optometry may also warrant more frequent eye examinations.