How often you have an eye exam depends upon a number of factors specific to you, your heredity, and your environment. The most common preliminary characteristics looked at to determine visual health checkup schedules are:
As we mentioned earlier, eye treatments in residents of Corona del Mar - CdM, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, and Costa Mesa - where a large percentage of our patients are from - tend to be more important due to local harsh (beach and ocean related) environmental conditions.
- were you born with or did you develop any vision disorders early in your life
- is there a history of eye problems in your family background
- what are the conditions of your working environment
- are you diabetic or are your family members predisposed to diabetes
- how old are you
Most serious eye disorders are not cured once discoveredů they can only be treated, or managed. Most serious eye illnesses or eye conditions do not have strong symptoms at first, but must progress to some level of significant visual degeneration before the symptoms become strong enough to motivate the patient to seek help. Because most serious eye illnesses do not signal their presence early on with pain - the only way to become aware of them in time to avoid permanent vision damage is to have regular eye healthcare checkups.
If we live long enough, almost all of us eventually develop one or more significant eye disorders.
Eye exams are painless but do require that you set aside some time to come to our Newport Beach eye clinic and go through the series of tests needed to have a comprehensive eye exam. This is one of those responsibilities that is easy to postpone because most of us only respond to pain in our eyes when it comes to medical care. Unfortunately, pain is not a common indicator in most forms of eye disease. Only some level of blindness or vision impairment is our "danger flag." Because of this, the majority of us have no physical compulsion to do anything proactive - like schedule an exam when everything feels OK. This is a mistake when one considers the statistics about eye disease.
A study conducted by the University of Washington Department of Ophthalmology in late 2003 or early 2004 discovered these frightening statistics in the United States:
Comprehensive eye exams have a number of different tests for assessing peripheral vision, depth perception, visual acuity, color vision, and the ability to focus close up. Different kinds of instruments and lenses are employed to test vision and eye health. Every part of your eye is examined for any indicators it may play in various eye disorders.
- 100 million Americans are visually disabled unless they have corrective lens
- 80 million Americans are afflicted with potentially blinding eye diseases (statistical projection - based on sample)
- 11.4 million Americans have severe visual impairment not correctible by lens
- 6.4 million Americans will develop serious eye disease this coming year
- 5.5 million Americans have their vision obstructed by cataracts & most don't even know it
- 3.7 million visits by Americans are made to the eye doctor's office because of cataracts
- 1.35 million Americans have cataracts extracted from their eyes each year
- 400,000 Americans develop new cases of cataracts each year
- 60 million Americans are at risk for developing glaucoma
- 10 million Americans have above-normal intraocular pressure that may lead to glaucoma
- 3 million Americans visit their ophthalmologists each year for glaucoma related conditions
- 2 million Americans are visually impaired by glaucoma and another million have glaucoma but don't even know it
- 120,000 Americans are presently blind due to glaucoma
- 5,500 Americans go blind from glaucoma each year
- 13 million Americans exhibit signs of macular degeneration
- 6.3 million Americans will have age related macular degeneration by 2030, up from 1.7 million in 1995
- 1.2 million Americans are in the late stages of macular degeneration
- 230,000 Americans are presently blind from macular degeneration
- 16 million diabetics are prime targets for blinding disorders
- 7 million diabetics presently suffer from diabetic retinopathy
At our Newport Beach eye care clinic, we have all of the latest equipment necessary to diagnose and help treat serious eye disorders.
The most widely used tests for visual accuracy or disease assessment include:
There is no reason why an individual should not undergo eye tests at the suggested intervals proposed by the Academy of Ophthalmology. If a patient isn't experiencing any vision problems, corrective lenses are not required and vision will not worsen without them. Understanding any irregularities or abnormalities present in the eyes and early diagnosis of such problems is critical to planning successful treatment of a number of eye diseases.
- Visual Acuity Test
- This is the eye test most of us are familiar with. We use a chart containing various letters, numbers and/or symbols. The patient's ability to read the chart indicates how clearly they can see from a distance. Visual acuity test results are expressed as a fraction, for example 20/20 vision. The top 20 indicates the distance from the chart at which the patient can read accurately (20 feet with normal vision), whereas the bottom number indicates the distance that one with normal eyesight can accurately read the chart.
- External Eye Examination
- The doctor uses a light to assess how the pupils respond to light, both the movement and position of the eyes, corneal health, and the clarity of the iris.
- Slit-Lamp Exam
- With the Slit-Lamp exam, the doctor examines the cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber of the eye under intense magnification. A bright light is beamed through a slit lamp so the doctor can see a cross section of the front areas of the eye to check for abnormalities. Additionally, a dye may be used to check for corneal problems such as tears, scrapes, cuts, or infections. The doctor uses blue light, making the dye appear yellow as it spreads across the eyes.
- Retinal Exam
- A retinal exam uses an ophthalmoscope or slit lamp to diagnose any irregularities in the retina, vitreous fluid, choroid or optic nerve. Your eyes are dilated with drops to widen the pupils and provide a better view into the back potion of the eye. A retinal exam is used to detect signs of diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
- Perimetry (Visual Field Test)
- Visual field refers to the area in front of an individual that they are able to see without moving the eyes. The Perimetry test uses a machine to flash spots of light at varying brightness onto different locations of a screen. Each time the patient sees a spot, they press a button that records the result. This provides a map of where vision is strong or weak. Eye disorders such as macular degeneration or glaucoma cause characteristic patterns of holes in a patient's visual field, allowing the doctor to diagnose the disorder long before a patient even notices vision loss. The Amsler grid is another test used to assess a patient's visual field. A grid with a black dot at the center is used to test each eye's ability to focus clearly. Each eye is tested to assess whether the grid can be seen clearly as the eye focuses on the dot. Distortion of the graph can indicate retinal damage.
- Refraction Assessment
- Sharp eyesight relies on the eyes ability to correctly focus light waves that pass through the cornea and lens onto the center of the retina. The ability to assess a patient's refraction helps a doctor determine the lens prescription best suited to a patient's vision needs. Both a computerized refractor or Retinoscope can be used to test for refractive errors. After these tests, a Phoroptor is used to fine tune the exact lens best able to correct the error.
- Tonometry (Glaucoma test)
- Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve, usually due to increased pressure within the eye. The deterioration of the optic nerve hampers peripheral (side) vision. When left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness; however, with treatment, it is a manageable eye disease. Tonometry measures internal eye pressure. Tonometry measures the amount of force required to briefly flatten the cornea. When internal eye pressure is high, glaucoma is typically diagnosed.
- Fluorescein Angiography
- This test is used to diagnose diseases present in the retina or choroid. A dye is injected into a vein in the arm, causing the blood vessels in the choroid and retina to appear yellow when the dye reaches and circulates through the eye. A camera is used to take pictures every couple of minutes, allowing a doctor to see whether any abnormalities in the blood vessels exist. This exam is typically used to detect the presence of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.