Comprehensive eye exams are designed to provide a significant amount of information about the eyes, including information about vision problems, eye diseases, eye infections and problems affecting the structure or function of the eyes. Many eye diseases cause very few symptoms – and sometimes none – in their very early stages, and having a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to catch those diseases so they can be treated before they cause serious problems like permanent vision loss. Routine eye exams are especially important for children whose eyes and vision are still developing, and for patients in their 40s and older when age-related eye diseases become more common.
Comprehensive eye exams begin with a complete patient history to look for risk factors that could make a person more prone to certain diseases or vision issues. A series of evaluations will be performed, including assessments of visual acuity (how clearly objects are seen at different distances), peripheral vision, depth perception, eye tracking and other functional issues. Special tests will also be performed to check the pressure inside the eye (the intraocular pressure or IOP) to look for signs of glaucoma. Dilating eye drops will be placed in each eye to widen the pupil so the retina, optic nerve, and other internal structures can be evaluated. If vision problems are identified, other evaluations can determine the prescription lens needed for each eye.
Eye exams should be performed every two to three years for adults under age 40, and every one to two years for those aged 40 years and above. Assessment at age 40 is recommended to determine the optimal scheduling of examinations to look for signs of age-related diseases. People with a family history of eye or vision problems may need to be seen more frequently.
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