From the Experts: A Quick Guide to Eye Exams | NorthShore
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From the Experts: A Quick Guide to Eye Exams

Monday, April 30, 2018 11:57 AM

Annual doctor's appointment? Check. Yearly dentist visit? Check. Eye exam? Well...

For many, scheduling an eye exam doesn't seem quite as important; if you don't wear glasses or contacts, or have an obvious problem, what's the point? Dr. Paul Phelps, NorthShore Ophthalmologist, who previously answered patient questions all about common eye problems answers some questions that are helpful to review before your next eye appointment:

 

How often should eye exams be scheduled?
Over the age of 55, patient’s should have a yearly eye exam. Also, patients with diabetes should have annual eye exams. Of course, if your doctor recommends more frequent examinations, you should follow their advice. Otherwise, healthy eyes with no underlying medical problems could be examined every two years or so.

What are ophthalmologists typically looking for during eye exams?
Ophthalmologists are looking for diseases in the eye or signs of a systemic disease which is manifest in the eye. Examples of eye diseases include: cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.

Can you give us a brief layout of what happens during an eye appointment? 
Patients will have their vision, eye pressure, and pupil exam checked as well as visual fields and extraocular movements. Then their eye doctor will examine their eyes thoroughly with a microscope. Sometimes dilatation is required, especially for new patients or comprehensive eye exams.

What kind of equipment is used during eye exams?
The main equipment is the microscope, called a slit lamp. Also, attached to the microscope is a device used to check the eye pressure. This is called a tonometer.

As people get older, is it recommended to see an eye doctor more regularly? If so, how often?
Yes, over age 55 patients should see their eye doctor yearly or more frequently if advised by their eye doctor.

When vision issues are apparent during an exam, what are the recommended next steps for patients?
It depends on the vision issues which are affecting the patient. Some issues require urgent follow up and testing and/or treatment while others may be followed on a yearly basis.

Any tips for how to care for the eyes on a daily basis?
Having a balanced diet, good exercise and not smoking are the keys to healthy eyes.