Over the past months of the Covid-19 lockdown, you’ve had the opportunity to dust all those neglected corners of your life. As you turn over a ‘new leaf’ I hope you will give your eyes careful consideration. After all, you are probably going to see things differently, as you look at yourself and your surroundings with changed vision.
There are many aspects to sight and vision but, as an optometrist, I focus on the physical eye. Can you remember when you last had an eye examination? I hope it was within the last two years.
You may be familiar with the procedure when you visit your optometrist, or you may be considering that your first visit is due. Once through the reception area the examination room can appear somewhat daunting for first-time patients. Remember, however, all the large and small equipment is there to give us accurate readings – it’s totally harmless.
During a comprehensive eye test, which involves more than a simple vision screening, you’ll be asked about your – and possibly your families’ – medical history, as well as any injuries you may have had, and any vision problems you may be experiencing. You’ll be wanting an accurate assessment, so be forthcoming. It’s advisable to inform your optometrist about any medication and/or supplements you take and have your current glasses/contact lenses and sunglasses with you. You’ll also be asked for your healthcare practitioner’s details.
First of all your visual acuity will be measured. This determines the sharpness of your vision and checks whether you need glasses/contact lenses. The process involves a projected eye chart that measures the accuracy of your distance vision and a hand-held chart for measuring the clarity of your near vision.
Depending on your age your optometrist may conduct one or more of the following tests:
- a colour blindness screening
- a cover test to ascertain whether your eyes work well together.
- an eye-movement test to check the accuracy of your eyes following a moving object
- a glaucoma test that checks the pressure in your eye
- a slit lamp examination that helps detect various conditions and diseases including cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers, and diabetic retinopathy
- a retinal examination that requires your optometrist to dilate your pupils with special drops, and the use of an ophthalmoscope to see the back of your eye to check:
- the retina, which is the innermost, light-sensitive layer of tissue of the eye
- the retinal blood vessels
- fluid in your eyes
- the head of your optic nerve
These are the most common tests. Further examinations will depend on the results of the examinations listed above.
A regular eye test will take about 30 minutes.
It’s advisable to be relaxed when being tested and it’s wise not to have an empty stomach or be thirsty.