You need eye care more than just eyeglasses
Simply knowing whether you need eyeglass prescription or not is not just enough to know whether your eyes are healthy.
Certain eye diseases such as open angle glaucoma are asymptomatic in nature. The disease creeps in and by the time you know you have it you may have already lost some of your vision. The best way to avoid this is through early detection by getting your annual eye examination by your eye-care practitioner (either by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist).
What to expect
So what should be done to you when you go for your eye examination? On top of reading the chart of letters and answering whether you can see it or not, your eye examination should include the following:
• Examination of your outer part of your eye. This test requires the use of an instrument called Slit Lamp bio microscope. It is used for many reasons, for example to check for any abnormalities such as dryness of your eyes. It is also used for those wearing contact lens to assess their suitability for wearing contact lens and monitoring their eyes for any side effect of wearing contact lenses.
• Examination of your inner part of your eye. This test requires the use of a handheld instrument called an ophthalmoscope. The procedure is noninvasive and does not hurt at all. It simply requires your eye-care practitioner to dim the lights then, using the ophthalmoscope, shine a light into your eyes at the same time move close to your eyes one at a time. Through ophthalmoscopy, your eye-care practitioner will be able to determine if you have other eye problems, such as cataracts and glaucoma, that can affect your vision.
• Measuring the curvature of your corneas. This test requires the use of an instrument called Keratometer. It is used to measure the curvature of the front surface of your eye, called cornea, so that your eye-care practitioner will be able to determine the correct size of the contact lens for you.
Other tests that may be used are:
• Measuring the pressures of your eyes. This test uses an instrument called a Tonometer that will measure the pressure inside your eye. Patients with a family history of glaucoma in particular should be screened regularly with this since glaucoma is a hereditary eye disease that can lead to blindness.
• Assessment of your color vision. This is a test to screen you of color deficiency. Color deficiency affects the color of the things you see but not your vision. This is also hereditary in nature. Through color vision test, your optometrist will be able to determine which color/s you find difficult to identify. This test is particularly valuable for children so that they may be properly advised already at an early age before they choose their occupation in which normal color vision is a requirement, such as seafarers, electricians and pilots.
In addition, it is recommended that the first eye exam should be when the child is at least 4 years old, unless parents noticed any vision problem earlier; then at least once a year thereafter especially for those who are already wearing prescription glasses and those with hereditary eye problems. The test to a 4-year-old kid may require your eye-care practitioner to put eye drops to your children in order to get a more accurate reading of their prescription.
At the end of a complete eye examination, your eye-care practitioner should be able to give you a clean bill of health when it comes to your eye health. No more no less.
(The author is the president and chief executive officer of George Optical. He was chosen Outstanding Professional of the Year in the optical field by the Professional Regulation Commission)
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