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When was YOUR last eye exam?

[caption id="attachment_130" align="alignright" width="200"] Eyeglasses are only part of a complete eye exam.[/caption] The National Eye Institute has announced that May 2009 is Healthy Vision Month. Find out what you need to know. You walk into an eye doctor's office and ask for an "eye exam." Do you know what to expect? Eighty percent of people under the age of 65 in this country believe that an eye exam only involves measuring the eyes for eyeglasses or contact lenses. But if it seems like ophthalmologists going to college, medical school and graduate school training for up to 12-14 years seems like overkill only to do a six minute measurement, you would be right. Why? Because like an iceberg, most of the what is true about the eyes is below the surface. Or rather, can only be seen with special equipment. Measurement of the eyes for a proper eyeglass precription, known as refraction, is only the first of many parts of an eye exam. In fact, May 2009 is Healthy Vision Month, a national eye health day that is devoted to promoting the vision objectives in Healthy People 2010. Healthy Vision Month is sponsored by the National Eye Health Education Program of the National Eye Institute, one of the National Institutes of Health. Common vision disturbances requiring refraction are:
  • Nearsightedness or myopia: Objects that are close are seen clearly, but distance objects are blurred.
  • Farsightedness or hyperopia: Distance objects are seen more clearly than near objects.
  • Astigmatism: The clear cornea surface of the eye is oval-shaped, like a football rather than a round basketball. This can create blurriness at all distances.
  • Presbyopia: The difficulty with reading vision that occurs in people over age 40 or 45, due to the internal lens of the eye becoming stiffer.
But there is much more to a thorough eye examination. The ophthalmologist (medical doctor specializing in eye care, has "M.D. or D.O. after name) or optometrist (non-physician, doctor of optometry. Has "O.D." after name) will examine not only vision and your refraction, but will examinine the following parts of the eye and surrounding tissues:
  • Pupils - Verify proper size and reactivity to light
  • Eye movements - Verify orthophoria (straightness) and possible movement disorders due to stroke or congenital issues
  • Eyelids - evaluate loss of lashes, inflammation, tumors, etc.
  • Cornea - Measure clarity, absence of scars or blood vessel growth.
  • Anterior Chamber - Rule out uveitis (internal inflammation) or bleeding
  • Iris - Rule out tumors, inflammatory nodules or abnormal blood vessel growth
  • Lens - Assess cataracts, supporting structure weaknesses, pseudoexfoliation syndrome
  • Vitreous - Rule out tumors or hemorrhage. Assess for floaters or posterior vitreous separation
  • Retina - Rule out macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, lattice degeneration, retinal tears, retinal detachment
  • Pressure - Rule out glaucoma (usually, but not always have high pressure)
  • Special Tests - Include Fluorescein Angiography, Optical Coherence Tomography, Optic Nerve Tomography, Computerized Visual Field Testing, Corneal Topography, Corneal Pachymetry, Retinal Photographs, and more.
Eye doctors have a great deal of knowledge about conditions of the eye that might not be apparent to you if your eyes are currently healthy. But it is important to see your eye doctor regularly, because most eye diseases have no symptoms until they are caught at a late stage. Dr. Krawitz

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