Family Eye Care Exams
Comprehensive eye exams are vital to maintaining optimal eye health. Regularly undergoing eye exams is crucial for detecting vision problems (e.g., nearsightedness, astigmatism) to determine if you may need glasses or contact lenses. They can also reveal eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration or glaucoma in their early stages when they are easier to treat. Additionally, eye exams are beneficial for your overall health, as they can sometimes offer early clues to health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer.
The talented eye doctors at Vista Eye Specialists offer comprehensive eye exams for patients of all ages. Our family eye care team can determine how often you should schedule your eye exams based off of a variety of factors, including your health, vision needs, age, and family history.
What to Expect During Your Eye Exam
During your eye exam, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your full medical history, including your eye health. You will also be asked to describe any vision problems you may be experiencing. Your eye exam will consist of a variety of eye tests to evaluate your eye health. You should plan on spending one to two hours at our office. Our doctors will determine the right tests for you based on your medical history and needs, so that we have a thorough and accurate evaluation of your eye health. Your eye exam may include any of the following tests:
- Retinoscopy – uses light reflexes from your eye to approximate your glasses or contact lens prescription. (Discussed in more detail below.)
- Refraction – fine-tunes your eyewear prescription by showing you a series of lens choices. This test helps determine your level of nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia. (Discussed in more detail below.)
- Auto refraction – evaluates the way an image is focused on your retina (the back portion of the eye where vision processing takes place) by stabilizing your head on a chin rest while you look at a pinpoint of light or another image.
- Cover test – involves covering your eyes one at a time while you focus on a small object at a distance, so that the doctor can observe the movement of the eye. This test helps detect strabismus, poor depth perception, and other binocular vision problems.
- Slit lamp exam – examines the health of your eyes by allowing the doctor to get a highly magnified image of the structures of the eye in order to thoroughly evaluate them for signs of infection or disease. As you rest your head on a chin rest, the doctor shines a light at your eye and looks through an ocular microscope to examine each part of the eye, including the front structures (lids, cornea, conjunctiva, iris, etc.) and the inside of the eye (retina, optic nerve, macula, etc.). This test helps detect a whole range of eye conditions and diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, corneal ulcers, diabetic eye disease and more.
- Glaucoma intraocular pressure measurement – determines your intraocular pressure. The doctor will anesthetize your eye with a yellow/green drop and then manually determine your intraocular pressure by using a blue light instrument near the front of each eye.
- Visual field test – detects blind spots in your peripheral vision. Blind spots can originate from eye diseases, like glaucoma, or develop from brain damage caused by stroke or tumor.
- Dilation – drops are used to make the pupils larger in order for the doctor to get a better view of the internal structures of the eye using a variety of instruments and lights. During this time, your eyes will be sensitive to light and you will have difficulty focusing on objects. Dilation takes about 20 minutes; however, the effects can last up to several hours. Therefore, sunglasses should be worn to minimize glare and light sensitivity on your way home. If you may feel uncomfortable driving after dilation, please bring a driver with you.
Exams for Checking for Refractive Errors
Refraction is the manner in which light passes through the eye’s clear front covering (the cornea) and lens. A refractive error refers to a problem with the way light passes through the eye and focuses on the retina; these errors occur when the cornea or lens is not evenly or smoothly curved, preventing light from focusing directly on the retina.
Nearsightedness occurs when light rays focus in front of the retina, causing close objects to appear clearly while faraway objects appear blurry. Farsightedness occurs when light rays focus behind the retina; faraway objects come into focus clearly but nearby images do not. Astigmatism occurs when light rays do not focus evenly on the retina, and both nearby and faraway images can appear blurry or distorted.
Our eye doctors use a technique called retinoscopy to measure refractive errors; during this test, the doctor shines a light into the eye and evaluates the movement of the light reflected by the retina. A phoropter — a mask-like device with multiple lenses mounted onto a wheel — may also be used to fine-tune the prescription. You will be asked to look through the different lenses and focus on an eye chart; the doctor will ask you which lenses give you the clearest vision. All of this information can help the doctor provide the eyeglass or contact lens prescription most likely to give you the best visual acuity.
Eye Exams for Updating Your Contact Lens Prescription
If you wear contact lenses, please bring a copy of your prescription (or a box of your contacts) to your eye exam. We will evaluate your vision with contacts and determine whether you need a prescription change. We will also look at the front of your eyes for any changes that may have been caused by wearing contacts, and make adjustments as needed.
If you currently do not wear contact lenses but would like to, you will need to have a special exam and fitting. Your eyeglass prescription and contact lens prescription are not interchangeable.
During the contact lens exam and fitting, several things will happen:
- We will discuss your contact lens options, including soft lenses, rigid gas permeable lenses, daily disposable and overnight wear lenses.
- We will measure the curvature of your cornea (the clear front surface of your eye) to help us select the appropriate curve and size of your contacts.
- We will measure your eye’s pupil and iris to ensure well-fitting contacts.
- We may evaluate your tear film, noting how many tears you produce and how long it takes for them to evaporate. This can help to determine whether you can wear contacts comfortably and if you have dry eye, the type of lens that is best for your eyes.
- We will have you try on a pair of contacts and evaluate your cornea using a special microscope to look at the alignment and movement of the lenses.
Once we determine the appropriate lens for your refractive error and the anatomy of your eyes, we will write you a prescription for the appropriate power, shape and diameter of the lenses that are right for you. You will wear these lenses for a few weeks as a trial and then have a follow-up exam to discuss making any necessary adjustments.
Why You Should Choose Vista Eye Specialists for Your Eye Care Needs
Voted a Top Eye Doctor by Northern Virginia Magazine, Dr. Binoy Jani and the staff at Vista Eye Specialists are the preferred choice for patients seeking comprehensive eye care in Fredericksburg and Culpeper, Virginia. Our board-certified eye doctors combine experience with a compassionate and personalized approach to provide exceptional, family eye care for patients of all ages. To schedule an eye exam, please contact one of our offices today.