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Campaign Kit: Eye Exam 101: Why They are Important and What to Expect

Eye exams are a great way to keep your vision sharp and your eyes healthy! Learn more in our Eye Exam 101 campaign kit, which includes an article on why eye exams are important and what to expect. Share the information with your employees so they can learn more too!

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Eye exams are essential for maintaining good vision and overall health, but did you know that many eye diseases don't show any symptoms in the early stages? That's why it's important to get your eyes checked regularly, even if you don't have any vision problems.

#visioncare #eyehealth #eyeexam #vision #health #eyesight

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Eye Exam 101: Why They are Important and What to Expect

Are eye exams a part of your wellness routine? If not, take a minute to reconsider.

There are many reasons people may put off having an eye exam. You may feel your vision is fine, feel intimidated when it comes to going to the eye doctor, aren't sure what to expect at an eye exam, or know where to start. But eye exams are about more than just vision correction—making them an essential part of your wellness routine.

Below, we'll cover why you need an eye exam every year and provide important information to help you feel comfortable going to the eye doctor—so you can check this essential task off your annual to-do list.

Beyond Vision: Eye Exams Do More Than You Think

While eye exams certainly have a lot to do with vision, there are many reasons to visit your eye doctor, even if you don't wear glasses or contact lenses.

During an eye exam, your doctor will check for vision correction needs such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), presbyopia, astigmatism, and more. These vision issues are refractive errors that can usually be corrected with prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. And while you may think you see just fine, your eye doctor can identify any changes and problems early, ensuring you see your best.

Your eye doctor also keeps an eye out for early signs of eye diseases like cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and more. Some of these diseases are symptom-free, so it's important to identify these conditions early before they develop into larger problems like vision impairment or loss.

An eye doctor can also help you with day-to-day concerns like eye allergies and digital eye strain. They can give tips on how to keep your eyes protected while at work and help you find the right eye protection, no matter your job or hobbies.

But vision correction needs and eye diseases aren't the only things eye doctors can detect through an eye exam. They can also identify signs or symptoms of more than 270 health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure (among others); and can identify early signs of diseases like brain tumors.

That's why, even if you have 20/20 vision, it is essential to see your eye doctor every year for an eye exam.

What Should I Expect at My Eye Exam

What Should I Expect at My Eye Exam?

Knowing what to expect at an eye exam can make the process easier, especially if it is your first time visiting the eye doctor.

Here's some things you'll likely experience during an eye exam:

  1. A look at your history. Your eye doctor will gather information about you, including the reason for your visit, your medical history, your family's health history, and information about your lifestyle.
  2. Preliminary testing. This is what most people think of when they have an eye exam. During this phase, your eye doctor will perform different tests to check your vision and eye health.
  3. Refraction testing. During this part of your exam, your eye doctor can determine your prescription from a universe of more than 200,000 possibilities!
  4. An ocular health assessment. This is where your eye doctor screens for diseases and other potential problems, including chronic illness and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, that can be detected in parts of the eyes.

During these four steps, your eye doctor will use different tools and techniques to evaluate your vision, eye health, and overall health. Let's take a closer look at a few key elements and tools used during eye exams.

  • What's the smallest line you can read? The chart with rows of letters in different sizes that many eye doctors use is called a Snellen chart. This chart measures how well your eyes can see at specific distances.
  • Cover your left eye, then the right. Using a shield, you'll cover one of your eyes while looking at objects (like the Snellen chart) across the room and up close. This helps your doctor see how well your eyes work together.
  • Which is clearer? 1 or 2? Your eye doctor will have you view the same letters at different prescription strengths and indicate which option you see more clearly. This helps the eye doctor determine your eyewear prescription.
  • Taking a closer look. To get a better view of the front and inside of your eyes, your eye doctor may use a slit lamp (also called a microscope), which lets the doctor see inside the eye more clearly.
  • The pressure test. Your eye doctor's office will use a special machine to measure the fluid pressure in the eyes and test for conditions such as glaucoma. Your doctor may also use other machines to check the curvature of your cornea, especially if you wear contact lenses.
  • Prepare for a few drops in your eyes. To look inside and at the back of your eyes, your eye doctor may put in dilating drops to enlarge your pupils. These can leave your vision temporarily blurry and may make you sensitive to light for a while.
  • Seeing the big picture. Your eye doctor may also do a retinal screening, where they take pictures of the inside of your eyes and evaluate your retina and vasculature. These images create a historical record of your eyes and allows them to identify changes over the course of each year.

How to Prepare for Your Eye Exam

Once you've determined which eye doctor you want to see, your next task is to prepare for your eye appointment. We put together a list of some topics you may want to discuss with your eye doctor at your appointment so they can help you see your best and keep your eyes healthy.

  1. Think about any new or recurring symptoms. Look back over the last few months. Have you noticed yourself squinting more or holding things farther away when reading them (or bringing them closer)? Frequent headaches or blurry vision are all great things to discuss with your eye doctor. Some symptoms you may want to mention (if you are experiencing them) to your eye doctor include:

    • Sudden vision changes or fluctuations in your vision
    • Frequent headaches
    • Dry or watery eyes
    • Tired or fatigued eyes
    • Itchy eyes
    • Blurry vision
    • Increased squinting
    • Moving objects closer or farther away to read them
  2. Consider your lifestyle and occupation. Do you look at computer screens all day? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors? What type of hobbies do you have? Your daily activities can impact your eyes and their overall health. It's a good idea to discuss all these things with your eye doctor so they can determine any concerns, prescribe the right eyewear and materials, and help you take steps now to protect your vision. Before your appointment, consider:

    • How much time you spend looking at digital devices such as computers, phones, tablets, and televisions.
    • How much time you spend outside each day.
    • What type of activities you do, such as skiing, swimming, or other sports and activities.
    • What your occupation is. Do you work outside most of the time or in front of screens?

    Knowing this information lets your eye doctor determine what type of glasses or contact lenses will work best for your lifestyle and recommend lens enhancements to keep you seeing well. They can also recommend other eye protection, such as sunglasses, blue light glasses, safety goggles, and more to help you protect your eyes from injury and keep them healthy.

  3. Bring the information you'll need. Your eye doctor will ask questions about your medical and eye health history. Bring a list of all current medications, including vitamins and supplements, and any current health conditions you have so they can advise if these can impact your eye health. If you have a family history of eye diseases, your eye doctor will also want to know this so they can watch for early signs and take preventative measures as necessary.

    Your eye exam is also an excellent time for you to ask your eye doctor any questions you have. Here are some questions you may want to ask at your eye exam:

    • How often should I get an eye exam?
    • What types of changes can I expect in my eyes at my age?
    • Do my current health conditions/medications affect my eye health?
    • How can I protect my eyes while at work?
    • What type of vision correction do you recommend for my lifestyle?
    • What eye protection should I wear to keep my eyes healthy?

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Take the Next Step

Now that you know why you need an annual eye exam, and what to expect at your eye exam —it's time to take the next step. Schedule your eye exam today. Your eyes will thank you.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.