Hello, again folks!
In our last article, we discussed what items distinguish optometry from ophthalmology and the fact that the best use of your time and resources is to have an optometrist be responsible for your traditional eye care and then they can guide you to the appropriate ophthalmologist should the need for a specialist arise.
Today we're going to review each part of a full eye exam, why you should have a full eye exam once a year, and then we'll talk a bit about the difference between various optometric practices.
A general or primary care eye exam has four basic parts: The interview, the refraction, the anterior segment evaluation, and the posterior segment evaluation. A thorough interview will cover systemic and eye-related history for the patient and family members as well as medication history and lifestyle questions. The purpose is to identify correlations between the history and the findings we note during the exam. This also contributes to visual recommendations based on how the patient utilizes their eyes on a daily basis or for specific tasks.
The refraction is the visual portion of the exam… you know… "is it better on one or two"? This is what we’re best known for and the main reason people come to see us. We all want to see clearly! It’s more difficult to learn, work, drive, etc if the world looks blurry! The refraction allows us to fit each patient in need with custom eyeglasses or contact lenses and ensure they have the best quality of life their eyes can give them.
This brings us to the most important portion of the eye exam, and the reason why everyone should be seen on an annual basis regardless of their visual acuity, it is the health portion of the exam. This portion of the exam covers both the anterior and posterior segments of the eye. Our visual system processes most of the daily sensory input our bodies receive so it is essential to ensure the overall health of this system. Here we screen for things like glaucoma, macular degeneration, dry eye and keratoconus. Many may not know that in addition to these eye-related problems, during the dialated portion of the exam your eyes become a literal window into diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other systemic problems that we can use to diagnose, monitor, treat and/or refer to other medical professionals to begin life saving treatment. Many of these conditions have the potential to cause blindness and would not otherwise be noticed until it was too late. Understanding these facts helps to educate patients and their friends and family (even those with perfect vision) of the importance of a complete annual eye exam. By now you should texting the people you care about with “perfect” vision so they can read this article and schedule their first eye exam.
As we talked about in the first article, an optometrist should be used as the first line of defense for your vision needs, but how can you find one that best meets your needs since there are so many options out there? There are basically two categories within optometry, those who are focused on speed and sales and those who focus on a medical model. Optometrists working within a corporate or commercial setting are limited by vision plans and corporate regulations as to the amount of time that can be spent on each patient and are focusing on the product being sold whether it is glasses or contact lenses. Their high means a higher chance that a more complex issue may be overlooked. Optometrists who focus on a more medical model are focused on the health of your eyes as well as committed to providing excellence in the best available products for your vision. Finding disease through dilation or other advanced technology is hands down the safest and most accurate option, but this requires sufficient time and equipment which most commercial settings simply don't invest in.
My primary focus with each patient is YOUR HEALTH! And my commitment to each patient is that along with my staff, I am invested in using the best resources at my disposal to care for your system and eye health. This is because I want you to experience the highest quality of life your eyes are capable of giving you. I use the most advanced technology on the market which allows me in most cases to complete the health portion of the exam without dilating eye drops, and to complete other critically important tests onsite in our clinic. I also have a strong working relationship with every vendor we use to guarantee quality and warranties for each product sold in our office. I am happy when my patients are happy and healthy and receiving the complete care they need and deserve!