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Are All Eye Exams the Same?

January 12, 2023

Before you book your next eye exam, it’s important to know that they aren’t all created equal. Routine eye exams can help check the quality of your vision, but comprehensive eye exams may be in order if you’re in a high-risk group for certain diseases or if it’s been a while since your last thorough checkup. Here’s what you need to know about the various eye exams (and when you need them).

Routine Eye Exams

The primary purpose of a routine eye exam is to:

●        Test your vision at different distances using methods like a letter chart

●        Identify refractive eye errors like short-sightedness

●        Help you determine if you need corrective eyewear or a strong prescription

It’s recommended that you get a routine eye exam at least once every two years, if not annually. They generally only take 30 minutes to complete and there is no downtime. Your doctor may also perform a contact fitment test, so you know which type of contact is best for you.

Comprehensive Eye Exams

The primary purpose of a comprehensive eye exam is to:

●        Test your vision along with your depth perception and ocular motility

●        Check the shape of your eye and spot abnormalities

●        Dilate your pupils to check inside your eye for signs of diseases like Glaucoma

Multiple tests will be given during a comprehensive eye exam to check your overall eye health beyond your current visual acuity. These exams are extremely important as they allow you to detect the hidden signs of diseases like Glaucoma early, which can help you prevent the disease from progressing, thus protecting you from vision loss and potential blindness.

It’s recommended that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every year. If you’re over the age of 60 or in a high-risk group, Medicare will cover the cost of your annual comprehensive exam. Most vision insurances allow for one comprehensive exam each year for optimal eye health.

When is Specialized Care Needed?

If it’s been a while since you had an eye exam, starting with a routine eye exam can help you test your visual acuity and tell you if you need corrective eyewear. However, most people can tell when their vision is starting to decline, and they’ll generally make an appointment to get glasses or contacts without much hesitation. The thing is, whether or not you’re currently suffering from vision loss, you could be suffering from an eye disease without even knowing it.

Routine eye exams are important for managing changes in vision quality as you age, but they cannot detect serious underlying problems like Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, or Macular Degeneration. Additionally, the most common form of Glaucoma (known as open-angle Glaucoma) has no early warning signs and will eventually lead to blindness if not managed properly. That’s why you should schedule a preventative comprehensive exam.

If your vision doctor detects a disease or abnormality in your eye, specialized care may be needed to properly diagnose the condition and ensure you get the appropriate treatment. Common issues like cataracts will generally require a referral to an Ophthalmologist who is able to perform the outpatient surgery necessary to remove them if that’s the route you plan to take.  At Vision Center South, we offer quick and seamless referrals to Eye Center South, our trusted partner for specialized Ophthalmology care.

Ultimately, by working with an Optometrist and having a comprehensive exam done as frequently as recommended based on your age or risk status, you can help protect your long-term eye health and prevent irreversible conditions like Glaucoma from stealing your vision away.

If it has been over a year since your last routine or comprehensive eye exam, click here to schedule an appointment with one of our qualified Optometrists today, at our location nearest you.

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