Note: This section is for education purposes only
Q. Why are eye exams important?
Regardless of your age or physical health, it’s important to have regular eye exams.During a complete eye exam, your eye doctor will not only determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses, but will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, assess how your eyes work together as a team and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.
Q. Who should get their eyes examined?
Eye examinations are an important part of health maintenance for everyone. Adults should have their eyes tested to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease. For children, eye exams can play an important role in normal development.Vision is closely linked to the learning process. Children who have trouble seeing or interpreting what they see will often have trouble with their schoolwork. Many times, children will not complain of vision problems simply because they don’t know what “normal” vision looks like. If your child performs poorly at school or exhibits a reading or learning problem, be sure to schedule an eye examination to rule out an underlying visual cause.
Q. How often do you see an Optometrist?
It is recommended to get your eyes examined yearly. Just as it is recommend to see your dentist and have your teeth cleaned twice a year, you should have your eyes examined on a yearly basis with your Optometrist. Having a yearly eye exam serves two purposes. It allows the doctor to perform a vision exam to determine whether your eyeglass prescription has changed. The second part of the exam is a wellness exam that checks the health status of the eyes. This will help determine whether there are problematic eye conditions that may affect your eyes.
Q. Who should I see for my eye exam?
There are two kinds of eye doctors – ophthalmologists and optometrists. Who you should see depends on your needs and preferences.
Optometrists (ODs) are eye doctors who can prescribe glasses and contacts and treat medical conditions of the eye with eye drops and other medicines. They are not licensed to perform eye surgery. It takes 4 years of additional education and training after receiving a bachelor’s degree at a college.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs or DOs) who specialize in eyecare. In addition to prescribing eyeglasses and contacts, ophthalmologists are licensed to perform eye surgery and treat medical conditions of the eye.
Q. How much does an eye exam cost?
Eye exams are available in many settings, from discount optical stores to surgical offices, so the fees can vary widely. Additionally, fees can vary depending upon whether the exam is performed by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, and the type of services that are included in the exam.Generally speaking, contact lens exams cost more than regular eye exams. Likewise, an additional or higher fee may be charged for specialized services such as laser vision correction evaluations.Many insurance plans cover at least a portion of eye exam services. Check to see what your benefits are and which eye doctors in your area participate in your plan before you make an appointment. Then be sure to give your doctor’s office your insurance information to verify coverage.
Q. What information should I take with me to my eye exam?
It’s important to have some basic information ready at the time of your eye examination. Bring the following items to your exam:
All eyeglasses and contact lenses you routinely use, including reading glasses
A list of any medications you take (including dosages)
A list of any nutritional supplements you take (including dosages)
A list of questions to ask the doctor, especially if you are interested in contact lenses or laser vision correction surgery
Finally, also bring your medical or vision insurance card if you will be using it for a portion of your fees
Q. Will my eyes get worse by wearing my glasses too much?
Your Optometrist will explain the purpose of your prescription and when they should be worn. In most cases, glasses will not cause any deterioration that would not otherwise occur. However, wearing glasses for activities different than recommended (i.e. distance glasses worn to read up close) may make the eyes work harder than they need to.
Q. How can I prevent my vision from getting worse?
Take frequent eye breaks, look up and away from extended near or computer work, spend time outdoors, don’t hold reading material too close to your face, practice eye-focus skills as recommended by your doctor, and ensure you are wearing a current lens prescription. In some studies, Orthokeratology(Corneal Reshaping Treatment) have been shown to slow down the progression of myopia in school age children.
Q. When should a child have his/her first eye exam?
A child should have their first vision evaluation as early as 6 months old and annually thereafter unless a visual problem is suspected earlier.
Q. How can you test my child’s eyes if he/she is not able to read letters or speak yet?
The doctor will use symbols instead of letters. Much of the testing that is done by the doctor requires little input from the child. The child’s eye exam is focused on assessment of the strength of the eyes, eye muscle status, and eye health to ensure proper vision development. Critical information can be obtained about your child’s eyes without them needing to say a word!
Q. What are symptoms that may indicate my child is having a vision problem?
There are many symptoms that require attention. They include rubbing eyes, squinting, turning or tilting head, losing their place or using a finger to follow along when reading, moving head or mouthing words while reading, headaches, red eyes, wandering eyes, complaints of blurred vision. Many disorders have no symptoms. ALL children need eye examinations at age 3.
Q. How often should disposable contact lenses be replaced?
Replacement time varies depending on eye health and tear chemistry, lifestyle and environmental exposure, time worn per day and days worn per week. Disposable lens replacement options can vary from daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and even quarterly. Your doctor will assess your eye health and vision status with your contact lenses to ensure you are following an appropriate wearing schedule.
Q. Does laser eye surgery correct all vision problems?
Laser eye surgery is used to correct many cases of myopia (blurred distance vision) and astigmatism safely and predictably. Laser correction of hyperopia (farsightedness) is in its advanced testing stages. Results are not as predictable, nor as successful. Presbyopia, which causes the need to wear reading glasses or bifocals, cannot be corrected by laser surgery. As a result, individuals over 45 years will require reading glasses in most cases following surgery. Amblyopia (lazy eye) or other existing conditions that have caused damage to the eye or loss of vision, cannot be repaired by laser surgery.
Q. Can laser eye surgery correct my need to wear reading glasses?
If you have good distance vision without glasses, but need reading correction only, laser refractive surgery is not an option for you. If you wear bifocals to correct both distance and near vision, you may be a candidate to have the distance vision corrected, but still have to wear reading glasses after.
Chidren and Vision
Children with uncorrected vision conditions or eye health problems face many barriers in life … academically … socially … and athletically. High-quality eye care can break down these barriers and help enable your children to reach their highest potential.
Vision doesn’t just happen. A child’s brain learns how to use eyes to see, just like it learns how to use legs to walk or a mouth to form words. The longer a vision problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more a child’s brain learns to accommodate the vision problem.
That’s why a comprehensive eye examination is so important for children. Early detection and treatment provide the very best opportunity to correct vision problems, so your child can learn to see clearly.
Eighty percent of all learning is performed through vision. Make sure your child has the best possible tools to learn successfully.
Signs of Vision Problems in Children
Many kinds of vision problems reveal themselves most easily in behavior, posture and attitude. These signs are usually associated most closely with long periods of visual work done at less than arm’s length from a child’s eyes. You can easily identify vision problems simply by observing your child and marking this checklist. If you mark more than a few signs, there is a good reason to suspect a vision problem.
- Squinting, closing/covering one eye
- Holding a book close to the face
- Losing his/her place while reading
- Excessive clumsiness
- Using a finger while reading
- Tilting the head to one side
- Performing below potential
- Short attention span
- Frequent daydreaming
- Rubbing eyes repeatedly
Understanding the Difference Between Vision Screenings and Vision Examinations
Vision Screenings — See What Your Child May Be Missing:
Vision screening programs are intended to help identify children with eye or vision problems that threaten sight or impair their ability to develop and learn normally. However, vision screenings are a limited process and cannot be used to diagnose an eye or vision problem, but rather to indicate a potential need for further evaluation.
- Many vision screenings test for visual acuity only. Use of the Snellen chart (eye chart for distance)alone only identifies five percent of the vision problems in children according to the American Foundation for Vision Awareness. A child may be able to see letters 20 feet away but that does not tell whether his eyes are able to work together to read materials 12 inches away, or if there is an eye health problem or vision perception problem.
- There may be no set standards and criteria for passing a vision screening. Results can be determined arbitrarily.
- A vision screening can give a parent a false sense of security.
When a child reports that he is seeing 20/20, parents often assume that no further testing is needed and fail to ever take the child for a comprehensive eye examination.
- Most screening facilities lack equipment to screen young children. Vision screening using traditional methods by non-eyecare professionals is extremely difficult for children less than 4 years of age.
- Amblyopia (poor eyesight in one eye, sometimes known as “lazy eye”)is often missed if the eyes are aligned (although it is usually picked up if a child’s eyes are crossed).
- According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, vision screenings were not attempted on more than 60 percent of the three-year old children in pediatricians’ offices. They found that in general, the younger the child, the less likely it was that a vision screening was attempted. (An attempt was defined as 10 or more seconds spent trying to get the child to cooperate with a vision screening.)
- Fewer than 50% of the children identified as needing professional eye and vision care ever receive that care, and of those who do, the average time between the screening and the examination is 18 months.