What happens during an annual eye exam?

During a comprehensive eye exam, your vision is tested by an optometrist to obtain a new glasses prescription. The optometrist will also do basic checks and screenings, such as dilation, to make sure that your eyes are healthy.

First, you will work with a technician who will gather medical history, allergies, family history, and any current medications. It is imperative to make them aware of any medical issues like diabetes or glaucoma that you or your family may have, that could affect the health of your eyes/vision. They will also ask questions about any issues that you are having with your eyes or vision during daily life. The technician will then check your intraocular pressure (a screening test for glaucoma). They will then do an auto-refraction to determine a baseline prescription and the steepness of the cornea (keratometry readings). Depending on the office, they may take fundus photos of the back of your eye (retina), to check the health of some very important structures located there. They will also do another testing as needed such as a color vision screening or stereopsis, a depth perception test. The technician will check your visual acuities and enter all of the information into the electronic medical records system. They will then determine the prescription of the glasses and/or contact lenses that you are currently wearing and record the information. The technician will put your prescription into the phoropter, and get the room ready for the doctor to do the exam.

The doctor will come in and ask you more detailed questions about any eye issues that you may be having. They may ask how long it has been since your last eye exam, or how long ago you purchased the glasses you are wearing. They will then check the reaction of your pupils to light, and check your peripheral vision (confrontation fields). They will then refract you by asking which choice of lenses is clearest for each line of letters, “one or two?”, while switching lenses. The doctor may also check your near vision if necessary. At this point, the doctor will let you know if your prescription has changed and how much. They will give you trial contacts if you are doing a contact lens fitting and will check your vision and the movement of the contacts. They will then take a look at the contacts, the front of your eyes and eyelid margins under a microscope. Next, the doctor will ask for consent to put drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. If you consent, they will put drops in your eyes and ask you to wait 15-20 minutes for the drops to take effect. At this time, you can look at new glasses or get pricing for contact lenses. After you are fully dilated, the doctor will check the health of the retina/surrounding structures with a special lens, light, and a microscope. They will then review/show you your retinal photos, and they will let you know if they found any irregularities/issues in any part of your eye exam. The doctor will make any necessary referrals or schedule any follow-up appointments if needed, and explain why the follow-up visit is needed if any.

This is just a quick overview of the annual eye exam. If you have any other questions, give us a call (919) 877-9300



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