Our eyes are our gateway to the world around us that require a subtle vigilance to ensure they remain that way throughout our lives. Today, that vigilance takes the form of an eye exam. The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) notes that a “comprehensive eye exam performed by a Doctor of Optometry is an important part of preventative health care…. because it looks at the entire eye and visual system, as well as prescriptions.”
Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers and represent the front line of vision health. Comprehensive eye exams can detect eye diseases and disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachments, and macular degeneration, as well as other systemic health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The Victoria Optometric Association’s website lists all qualified optometrists in the Greater Victoria Area for your convenience.
In preparing for your eye exam, when you make an appointment for an eye exam:
Briefly and clearly describe any vision problem you’re having.
Before you go, list questions for the eye doctor.
Be prepared to discuss any drugs you’re taking, and your family’s and your eye health history.
When you go, take your glasses and contact lenses, if you use them, and sunglasses for the trip home with your pupils dilated.
Before your eye exam, the eye doctor or an office staff member will take your medical and vision history. Your eye exam may take from half an hour to an hour. It will evaluate both your vision and the health of your eyes. A comprehensive adult eye examination may include, but is not limited to, the following tests – based on any signs and symptoms, along with the optometrist’s professional judgment:
An analysis of the patient’s visual needs at home, work, school and play in order to accurately determine the patient’s visual demands.
Measurement of the visual acuity of each eye, individually and together, both with and without corrective lenses at distance and near.
Diagnosis of the refractive status or prescription (focusing power of the eye) based on a combination of objective measurements and your response to questions.
Binocular vision assessment (ability to see using both eyes together), as it relates to eye coordination, depth perception, and eye movements, or in some cases, hand-eye coordination.
Colour vision evaluation.
Assessment of the health of the eye itself both inside and outside using a biomicroscope, ophthalmoscope and a dilated eye examination when indicated.
A neurological assessment of the visual system includes a review of the pupil reactions, ocular motility and an assessment of peripheral vision.
Screening for glaucoma, including testing pressure inside the eye, looking inside the eye at the retina and optic nerve, as well as performing peripheral vision tests.
These test results are then used in the final analysis to determine:
The appropriate prescription lenses to treat refractive and visual problems.
To develop a program of eye training exercises.
Recommendations for future eye care or medical or surgical treatment.
Children should get their eyes tested after they enter the first grade. Adults 40 years and older need an exam to check for problems. It’s important to note that if you have a health condition, work in a visually demanding job, or take medications that can affect your eyesight, you may need more frequent exams. The Victoria Optometric Association suggests eye exams should be conducted annually to prevent long-term vision damage.
If you need to find an optometrist in the Greater Victoria Area, or for association-related questions, call the Victoria Optometric Association at 250-361-1427 today. Visit our affiliated professional organizations’ websites of the College of Optometrists of British Columbia, Doctors of Optometry, and the British Columbia Association of Optometrists.