When was your last eye exam? Annual exams are very important not only to determine if you need correction to see well, but also to maintain the health of your eye. We recommend an annual eye health and vision exam by Dr. Bell. They typically only take 30 minutes and are crucial to protecting and preserving your precious vision for a lifetime.
While some eye diseases let you know something's wrong - with symptoms such as red eyes, light sensitivity, or flashing lights - many serious, vision-threatening problems have no warning signs. Much like high blood pressure, most forms of glaucoma, for example, produce no symptoms whatsoever until some vision has been permanently lost. Proper eye care and checkups can help prevent your eyesight being taken from you. Annual eye exams can also detect diabetes, hypertension, retinal holes or tears, and other important treatable medical conditions. Today's sophisticated medical equipment, in the hands of one of our experts, can detect the earliest signs of a problem.
A complete eye exam involves a series of tests designed to evaluate your vision and check for eye diseases. It doesn't hurt. Your doctor may use odd-looking instruments, aim bright lights directly at your eyes and request that you look through a seemingly endless array of lenses. Each test is necessary and allows your doctor to evaluate a different aspect of your vision. Common tests that you might have include:
External eye exam
Your eye doctor makes a quick check of your eyes using a light to ensure the exterior parts of your eyes are functioning correctly. In an external eye exam, your eye doctor checks:
Your pupils to see if they respond normally
Position and movement of your eyes, eyelids and lashes
Your cornea and iris for clarity and shininess
Eye Muscle Test
This test examines your eye muscles to ensure they're functioning properly. Your eye doctor looks at your eyes as they move in six specific directions. Your doctor will ask you to sit still and look forward, using your eyes to follow an object, such as a pen. The eye muscle test is designed to detect any weaknesses or uncontrolled movements in the muscles that move your eyes up and down and side to side.
Visual Acuity Test
This test measures how sharply or clearly you can see something at a distance. Your doctor will ask you to identify different letters of the alphabet off a chart positioned usually 20 feet away. The lines of type get smaller as you move down the chart. You cover one eye and read aloud, then cover the other eye and read aloud. Your doctor monitors how well you can identify the letters. Your visual acuity is expressed in a fraction - such as 20/20 vision. The top number refers to your distance from the eye chart, usually 20 feet. The bottom number indicates the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could correctly read the line you read. For example, 20/20 vision means that you can see objects clearly from 20 feet away that a person with normal vision could see clearly from 20 feet away. However, if your visual acuity is 20/50, the line you read correctly at 20 feet could be read by a person with normal vision at 50 feet.
Refraction refers to how light waves are bent as they pass through your cornea and lens. A refraction assessment helps your doctor determine a corrective lens prescription that will give you the sharpest vision. We may use a computerized refractor to measure your eyes and estimate the prescription you need to correct a refractive error. We then fine-tune this refraction assessment by asking you to look through a phoropter, a mask-like device that contains wheels of different lenses, and judge which combination gives you the sharpest vision. By repeating this step several times, we will find the lenses that give you the greatest possible acuity.
Visual field test (perimetry)
Your visual field is the area in front of you that you can see without moving your eyes. Your eye doctor uses this test to determine whether you have difficulty seeing in any areas of your peripheral vision - the areas on the side of your visual field. A few different tests can assess your visual field:
At Bell Family Eye Care, we value you as our patient and our goal is to maintain your healthy vision so we spend time talking to you about your unique eyes. We are always available if you have a question about your eyes or vision. We are here to serve you and thank you for choosing us as your eye care provider.
A slit lamp allows us to see the structures at the front of your eye using a microscope - called a slit lamp because it uses an intense line of light to illuminate your eye. We use this light to examine the cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber of your eye. When examining your cornea, we may use fluorescein dye. The orange dye spreads across your eyes to help your eye doctor detect tiny cuts, scrapes, tears, foreign objects or infections on your cornea. Your eyes' tears will wash the dye away.
Retinal examination (ophthalmoscopy)
A retinal examination - sometimes called ophthalmoscopy or fundoscopy - examines the back of your eye, including your retina, optic disc, choroid and blood vessels. We may use special eye drops to dilate your pupils, opening them wider so we can see the back part of your eye. We also have the retinal camera which can be used as an alternative to dilation in many people. It allows us to take a digital picture of the retina through undilated pupils. Our staff will talk to you more about this when you get to the clinic. Your eye doctor may use one or more of these techniques to view the back of your eye: The retinal examination takes five to 10 minutes, but if you're given eye drops, the effects won't wear off for several hours. Your vision will be blurry, and you'll have trouble focusing your eyes. Depending on your job, you might not be able to return to work immediately after your exam. You will also be very sensitive to the light so we recommend using sunglasses. We are happy to provide disposable sunglasses to you if you prefer.
Tonometry measures your intraocular pressure - the pressure inside your eyes. This test in conjunction with other more specific tests such as an OCT, a visual field and a detailed retinal exam will help us determine your risk for the development or progression of glaucoma. Glaucoma can be treated if it's caught early.