General Ophthalmologists perform comprehensive eye examinations and surgical assessments. Patients ranging from infants through to elderly adults with ocular problems and health concerns are seen by these specialists.
Comprehensive Eye Examination and Care
A general eye examination involves more than just getting your eyes checked for a lens prescription. It involves several tests to check your eyes for altered vision and for any eye disease.
The first comprehensive eye examination of a child should be done at 3 years of age unless some eye problem is noticed before that. Your ophthalmologist will check for normal 20/20 vision, lazy eye and crossed eyes. If any vision problem is found the next regular eye check-up will be advised by your doctor. If not, the next eye check-up for the child should be done every two years. Early detection of any eye problem will help to provide timely treatment and thus will prevent deterioration of vision.
Adults with normal vision in the age group of
- 20 to 40 years should go for a general eye examination every 5 years.
- 40 to 65 years should go every 2 years.
- Above 65 years should go every year.
In case you have a family history of eye disease or vision problems or chronic diseases such as diabetes that may affect vision, more frequent eye check-ups would be required.
When you go for your eye examination the doctor will ask you about any vision problems you are facing or have had before and also about family history of diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. You should take your eyeglasses or contact lenses if using them along with you when going for the general eye examination.
The general eye examination includes a number of tests that ascertain the health, function and appearance of different parts of the eye. These include:
- Visual acuity test checks how well you can see from a distance of about 6 metres. You are asked to read aloud the letters written on a chart or screen (Snellen chart). The letters decrease in size as you read from the top line to the bottom line.
- Eye muscle test checks the function of the eye muscle used for movement of the eye. The doctor will ask you to look at a pen or any other object without moving the neck while the doctor moves it in various directions.
- Refraction test determines whether you need corrective lenses or your vision is normal. In case you need corrective lenses, it determines the prescription of the lens that will give you the best possible vision. Your doctor may use a computerized refractor or retinoscopy to determine your prescription for corrective lenses. In retinoscopy the doctor shines a light into the eye after dilation and estimates the refractive error. Then fine adjustments for the prescription are done by having you look through a variety of lenses in a mask like device or Phoropter to give you the sharpest vision.
- Visual field test measures peripheral or side vision. It may be done using automated perimetry in which you will be asked to look into a special instrument that flashes light. If you see the light you are asked to press a button. It may also be determined by a confrontation visual field exam in which you cover one of your eyes and look at your doctor’s hand as it moves inward and outward from your visual field. You should tell your doctor when you are able to see his hand or fingers.
- In the colour vision test, the doctor will show you certain multi-coloured dot patterns. In case you have a certain colour deficiency you will not be able to see certain patterns in those given sheets.
- In the slit lamp examination, you will be seated and are asked to rest your chin and touch your forehead on the slit lamp. The lamp magnifies the image of the eye and allows the doctor to look for any problems of the cornea, lens, iris and anterior chamber of the eye. Sometimes the doctor may stain the tear film of the eye with a fluorescein dye by using eye drops or by using a paper strip before examining through the slit lamp for cuts, foreign objects or infections of the cornea.
- Retinal examination is done to check for diseases of the retina or optic nerve present at the back of the eye. The doctor will try to see the back of the eye using an ophthalmoscope or slit lamp following dilation of the pupil. The doctor may also choose to do an indirect examination by using a bright light mounted on the head while each eye is kept open during examination. The eye drops used for examination will cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light for several hours after the test. The effect will go away after a day or so.
- Part of a glaucoma assessment may include the following:
- Noncontact tonometry: Here a blow of air on the eye is used to measure the eye pressure.
- Applanation tonometry: First your eye is numbed using eye drops. The eye drops also contain fluorescein to see the tear film. Gentle pressure is applied by touching the cornea using a tonometer and eventually the amount of force required to flatten a part of the cornea temporarily is measured. The procedure does not hurt.
- Pachymetry: After numbing the eyes an instrument is used to measure the thickness of the cornea. It uses ultrasound waves to measure as corneal thickness is one of the significant factors that affect the intraocular pressure.
Your doctor will provide you the results of the tests immediately. In case any vision problem is detected the doctor will give you a prescription for corrective glasses. However if any eye disease is detected or suspected you may be asked to undergo further specific eye tests to confirm the initial finding.