A standard ophthalmic exam is a series of tests done to check your vision and the health of your eyes.
First, you will be asked if you are having any eye or vision problems. You will be asked to describe these problems, how long you have had them, and any factors that have made them better or worse.
Your history of glasses or contact lenses will also be reviewed. The eye doctor will then ask about your overall health, including any medications you take and your family's medical history.
Next, the doctor will check your vision (visual acuity) using a Snellen chart.
Other parts of the exam include tests to:
Another magnifying device called a slit lamp is used to:
Make an appointment with an eye doctor (some take walk-in patients). Avoid eye strain on the day of the test. You may need someone to drive you home if the doctor uses eye drops to dilate your pupils.
The tests cause no pain or discomfort.
All children should have vision screening in a pediatrician's or family practitioner's office around the time when they learn the alphabet, and then every 1 to 2 years afterward. Screening should begin sooner if any eye problems are suspected.
Between ages 20 and 39:
Adults over age 40 who have no risk factors or ongoing eye conditions should be screened:
Depending on your risk factors for eye diseases and your current symptoms or illnesses, your eye doctor may recommend that you have exams more often.
Eye and medical problems that can be found by a routine eye test include:
Abnormal results may be due to:
This list may not include all possible causes of abnormal results.
If you received drops to dilate your eyes for the ophthalmoscopy, your vision will be blurred and sunlight can damage your eye. Wear dark glasses or shade your eyes to avoid discomfort until the dilation wears off, usually in several hours.
Many eye diseases, especially glaucoma and retinal detachment, are curable or can be treated if detected early.
Routine eye examination; Eye exam - standard; Annual eye exam
American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Patterns Committee. Preferred Practice Pattern Guidelines. Comprehensive Adult Medical Eye Evaluation. Available at http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=64e9df91-dd10-4317-8142-6a87eee7f517. Accessed February 26, 2013.
Colenbrander A. Measuring vision and vision loss. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 2013 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012:vol 5, chap 51.
Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stass-Isern M. Examination of the eye. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 611.
Updated by: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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