Eye exams are essential for maintaining good eye health and vision. During an eye exam, your healthcare provider will use several instruments to evaluate your vision and detect any eye diseases. The exam typically begins with a series of questions about your medical and vision history. After that, your doctor will use a variety of tests to measure your visual acuity, check for any eye diseases, and evaluate the health of your eyes.
The first test performed in a comprehensive eye exam is usually a visual acuity test that measures the sharpness of vision. Your doctor may also use a cover test to check how well your eyes work together. This test involves focusing on a small object on the other side of the room and then covering each of your eyes alternately while you look at the target. The test is then repeated with your eyes fixed on a nearby object.
Your doctor may also use a slit lamp, which is a binocular microscope that allows them to examine the internal structures of the eye in greater detail. To get a better view, they may place dilating drops in your eyes to enlarge the pupils. Other tests may include mapping what you see at the edges (periphery) of the visual field and checking for color blindness. If you have any existing eye problems or are at risk of developing them, it's important to have an eye exam every year.
Your doctor may also recommend more frequent tests if you have certain health conditions, take medications that can affect your vision, or work in a job that requires you to use your eyes a lot. At the end of the exam, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat or control certain eye conditions, infections, or diseases. If you're going for an eye exam, be sure to ask questions about your vision and general health history.