If you haven’t visited an optometrist for a while, or if it’s your first eye exam, you likely have a lot of questions regarding what to expect during the exam itself.
At Dr. Sciberras’ clinic, your eyes and vision are our top priority. There are a variety of things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your appointment. Each exam takes approximately 15-30 minutes, depending on what the problems and needs of the patient are, and of course, the specific challenges each case presents.
Preparing for an Eye Exam
There are a few things you can do to prepare for your eye exam. You always want to bring your most recent eyeglasses and the ones you use most if they are not the same, your contact lenses in their case and any information pertaining to your contact lenses if applicable, a list of any medications and/or vitamins you are taking, whether they are for the eye or for the treatment of systemic conditions such as diabetes or allergies.
When you arrive, you’ll be asked a few questions so we can understand your medical, ocular and family history, as well as understanding your primary and secondary eye/vision complaints. Eye problems can run in the family, such as diseases of glaucoma and macular degeneration, so it is important to know your family’s eye history. Other medical conditions that such as high blood pressure, lupus, arthritis, and diabetes are also important to let your optometrist know about.
At the beginning of your appointment, you should also inform the doctor about any vision problems you may be experiencing and any specific vision tasks you perform, such as hobbies (e.g. playing golf or model building) and specific work-related tasks.
Common Eye Tests
There are a variety of eye tests commonly performed at a routine eye exam with Dr. Sciberras:
Visual acuity test – This test measures the sharpness of your vision. You’ll see an acuity chart with letters, numbers or symbols depending on your comprehension or language abilities. This is performed both at a distance and at reading distance. It is important not to squint while performing acuity testing and it is acceptable to give your best answer, even if you are not certain of your answer.
Cover test – This test is used to check your binocular coordination. This test can diagnose a lazy eye or strabismus, an eye misalignment. Your eyes will be alternately covered to look at an object. The doctor needs to determine if you are fixating properly with both eyes, or if you have a dominant eye and an eye that is lazy or strabismic.
Ocular motility assessment – This test requires you to follow an object with your eyes, typically a pen tip held up by the doctor. This is to check how accurately and smoothly your eyes can track a moving target.
Glaucoma testing – Also known as the “puff of air” test, this is performed by aiming a short stream of air towards the eye to measure the intra-ocular pressure and helps to detect glaucoma. Alternatively, and more accurately, a small probe is lightly touched to the anterior corneal surface to measure your eye pressure. This is the more accurate method of measuring your intra-ocular pressure when done with a Goldmann tonometer and is the method used by Dr. Sciberras. This method requires a topical anesthetic eye drop to be administered first so that no discomfort is experienced when the measurement is taken. The anesthetic eye drops do not impair your vision. They give the eye a numb or heavy feeling for about half an hour. Visual field testing is often employed to determine optic nerve function, to rule out glaucoma or in the presence of conditions such as stroke or headache. A visual field test is performed by an automated field analyzer to detect the sensitivity of your peripheral vision to moving stimuli or spots of light. It generally takes 2 to 5 minutes to complete, depending on the level of measurement required.
Slit lamp exam – In this procedure, the optometrist will use a light and magnifying microscope to examine the structures of the eye and ocular adnexa – cornea, conjunctiva, iris, lens, pupil, retina, optic nerve, drainage angles and eyelids. A slit lamp is basically a microscope specific to examination of the eye and its surrounding structures.
Refraction – This is the typical procedure when you think of an eye exam. This is the one that measures your prescription most accurately. You sit behind an instrument called a phoropter that contains literally thousands of prescription combinations while looking at a series of letters or numbers and your optometrist narrows the combination of lenses based on your subjective responses until you can see most clearly. It is important to note that there may be a difference between what is found as your prescription and what is prescribed. After your distance refraction is complete, the near vision is tested for amplitude of accommodation. For patient’s having reading or near vision problems, an ‘add’ is then determined. The goal is to find the prescription that will allow you to see fine things comfortably and clearly for long periods of time at your desired reading or viewing distance.
Pupil dilation – Sometimes, dilating a patient’s pupils is required to better see the structures at the back or inside of the eye, namely the retina, vitreous gel, and optic nerve. This means you will be more sensitive to bright light for about 3 hours following your exam and have blurred vision, more so for near vision for about the same amount of time. Bringing sunglasses to the appointment can help with post-dilation light sensitivity. It may also be helpful to arrange to be picked up from the appointment to avoid having to drive. Your vision will also be blurry during this period, more so with near vision.
What to Expect When All Tests/Measurements are Performed
We’ll tell you about any conditions or concerns that were detected and develop a course of treatment, recommendations and/or options for vision correction. During or after your exam, feel free to ask Dr. Sciberras as many questions as you have about the tests, results, treatment plan and/or prescription given. We’re here to help.
Lastly, if you require a new prescription or want to purchase new frames or contact lenses, you can receive these services at the office as well, from picking out the perfect frames or being trained and fitted with contact lenses. We can make recommendations and help you find the vision correction that suits your needs best.
Contact Us Today
While there are many components to your eye exam, we seek to make it an enjoyable experience. Now that you know what to expect in an eye exam, why wait any longer? Book your annual appointment with Dr. Sciberras today.