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Why an Annual Eye Exam is Important

Maintaining good eye health goes far beyond making sure your vision isn’t blurry. Eye doctors conduct a wide variety of tests to examine and assess the quality and health of your vision, as well as identify any health problems that could result in vision loss.

Eye Exams

Why Go to Eye Doctor?

Doctors recommend getting an eye exam annually to catch any changes in your vision and monitor your overall eye health. Annual appointments are the best form of preventative care for your eye health.

Why Does My Prescription Expire?

Simply put, your eyes can change over time. Your doctor might also suggest different brands of contacts if you’ve had issues. Contact lens prescriptions are valid up to one year and glasses prescriptions are valid up to two years depending on state law.

What Happens at the Eye Doctor?

At a comprehensive eye exam, you can expect your appointment to take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on your medical needs and available equipment. When you get to your appointment, expect to spend some time filling out paperwork detailing your medical and vision history. This information is important in order for your eye doctor to administer vision tests and diagnose any health-threatening medical conditions.

What Tests Are Done During an Eye Exam?

There are many tests performed in the optometrist’s office.

  • Eye Muscle Movement Test: This test checks your eyes’ alignment. Generally tested with a moving target, such as a pen or their fingertips, the doctor will watch your eye movements as you follow the object’s movements.
  • Cover Test: To examine how well your eyes work together, your eye doctor will cover and uncover one eye at a time and monitor their movements in relation to a steady target.
  • External Exam and Pupil Reactions Test: These two tests observe how your pupils adjust to light and objects close in distance.
  • Visual Acuity Test: Also known as the eye chart test, you’ll read down each row of letters (descending in size) until you can’t read the letters anymore.
  • Refraction Test: This is reserved for those in need of corrective lenses. Your eye doctor will test various lens strength slides, flipping back and forth until a comfortable prescription is reached.
  • Other Tests: Some other tests the doctor might perform are Slit Lamp (biomicroscope), Retinal Examination (ophthalmoscopy), Glaucoma Testing, Pachymetry, and Visual Field Test (perimetry).

What Happens After the Appointment?

Once you’ve made it through your comprehensive eye exam, you will receive a prescription. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), eye care providers in the US are required by law to provide you with a copy of your prescription, so you can purchase your contacts and/or glasses from the retailer of your choice1.

How Do I Get My PD?

If you receive a glasses prescription, you’ll also want to make sure to ask your eye doctor to measure your pupillary distance (PD). You can also measure your PD at home using this helpful page, but having it done at your doctor’s office will be more convenient and accurate because of their equipment.

1“Prescription Glasses and Contact Lenses.” Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - Consumer Information, Apr. 2016, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0116-prescription-glasses-and-contact-lenses.

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