What doctors look for in an eye exam

Q. How often should you get an eye exam?

A. For most people, we recommend once a year. The main reason to do this every year is to check the health of the eyes. We look for signs of problems like glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration in older adults. In younger people under the age of 20, the most common problem is the need for constant prescription changes.

Q. Who do you go to for an eye exam?

A. Most people go to an optometrist for an eye exam. Optometrists provide primary eye care, which includes checking eye health and treating vision disorders with eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are also highly trained in the detection and treatment of eye diseases and ocular emergencies.

Ophthalmologists may also provide primary eye care, but most focus on surgery of the eye and treatment of advanced eye diseases. Many ophthalmologists specialize in areas like cataracts, glaucoma, retina or cornea.

Q. What are some common diseases and problems of the eye?

A. Myopia, or nearsightedness, which is when light entering the eye is focused in front of the retina and distant objects appear blurred.

Hyperopia, or farsightedness, which is when light entering the eye is focused behind the retina and objects close-up are blurred.

Astigmatism is when the cornea has an irregular curvature, causing blurred vision.

* Eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery can correct all three of these.

Amblyopia, or what is commonly referred to as “lazy eye,” is a disorder in which a person has trouble seeing details through one eye. This problem needs to be caught early in order to correct it properly. If it is not detected before the age of 3, it is possible that the eye will stay this way. Prescription glasses can often fully correct this if caught early on.

Strabismus is a disorder that the two eyes do not line up in same direction. The eyes are then not looking at the same object at the same time. This is sometimes commonly referred to as “cross-eyed” or “lazy eye,” as well. A lot of times, this is corrected through eye surgery and/or eyeglasses.

Eye teaming is when the two eyes don’t work perfectly together or don’t stay working together when reading. This is more common in kids and can often lead to poor grades or school performance. This can be treated through eye exercises or glasses.

Focusing problems are common eye problems found in people after the age of 40, in which people cannot see up close. This is usually treated with multi-focal glasses, or its older term, “bifocals.”

Some common eye diseases:

Glaucoma is when the optic nerve is damaged from too much pressure in the eye.

Macular degeneration affects your central vision and usually occurs in people over the age of 70.

Diabetic retinopathy is when there is damage to the eye’s retinal blood vessels and is due to diabetes.

Hypertensive retinopathy is when there is damage to the eye’s retina due to high blood pressure.

Cataracts is the clouding of the lens inside the eye and is typically a problem for people above the age of 65.

Q. Where to go for more information?

A.Check out the American Optometric Association —¬†http://www.aoa.org/

~ Dr. Darrin Vits, OD, is an optometrist at The Eye Institute at Springfield Clinic in Illinois.

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