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What Is An Eye Exam? When and How Often Should We Have One?

By Essilor Canada

An eye exam performed by a Doctor of Optometry looks at the entire eye and visual system, as well as your prescription, and is an important part of preventative health care. It can detect eye diseases and disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachments and macular degeneration, and other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and brain tumors.

An eye exam includes:

  • A case history including past and present vision and medical issues, as well as a detailed family history.
  • An analysis of the patient’s visual needs at home, work, school and play. In some instances, this may necessitate questions about the patient’s school/work environment and recreational activities, 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.
  • 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, eye-hand coordination.
  • Colour vision evaluation as required.
  • Assessment of the health of the eye itself both inside and outside using a biomicroscope, ophthalmoscope and a dilated eye examination when indicated. This could uncover anything from a minor deficiency of the tears, to a major retinal problem, or even a serious condition elsewhere in the body.
  • A neurological assessment of the visual system including a review of the pupil reactions, ocular muscle reflexes and functions and an assessment of the 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.
  • Diagnosis of the refractive status or prescription (focusing power of the eye) based on a combination of objective and subjective techniques.

All of the test results are 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, or to recommend medical or surgical treatment.

When should we have an eye exam?

When should children have their first eye exam? How often should we have one?

Visual abilities play a big role in early development. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends that infants should have their first eye exam between six and nine months of age. Children should then have at least one eye exam just before starting daycare, and yearly after starting school.

Adults aged 19 to 64 should have an eye exam at least every two years, and people with diabetes should have an exam at least once a year. Other health conditions assessed by your Doctor of Optometry may also warrant more frequent eye examinations.

As most people age, their vision needs change. Complications often arise, and getting expert care is critical. At age 65 and older, adults should have an eye exam at least once a year.

Your vision is priceless. Routine eye exams by a Doctor of Optometry not only ensure good vision and eye health, but peace of mind.

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