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Eye Exams vs an Eye Physical

Eye physicals are necessary for everyone, regardless of their eye health.

No matter the age, every single person can benefit from maintaining their health. However, one aspect of life that tends to go unnoticed is the eye; in fact, nearly 45% of adults in the U.S. have neglected to have an eye exam in the last 2 years.

Some people believe that if their vision is clear, they do not need to worry about visiting an optometrist. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Eye physicals are critical for all patients to ensure their eyes are healthy and their vision is as clear as possible.

Today, we will take a look at what eye physicals are, what happens during them, and why having annual eye physicals is crucial to maintaining and preserving your eye health.

How Annual Eye Physicals Can Preserve Your Eye Health

Eye physicals are not unlike regular health physicals, but instead of assessing the patient’s overall health and well-being, eye physicals focus only on eye health and strength.

What to Expect

During an eye physical, an optometrist or ophthalmologist performs a series of tests and examinations to determine how well the patient’s vision is and if there are any current health risks to the eyes. 

These tests can be performed in several ways, but some of the most common include innovative technology like optical coherence tomography, retinal imaging, slit-lamps, phoropters, and more.

Why Are These Tests Important?

For many patients, one of the main reasons they decide to have an eye exam is to determine the type of prescription they need for the contacts or glasses. However, eye physicals can do a lot more than determine what kind of lenses the patient needs.

Nearly everybody can develop an eye disease at some point in their life, and a lot of these diseases can develop without symptoms in their early stages. If they develop without the patient’s knowledge, they can eventually cause permanent vision damage and, in more serious cases, blindness.

Common eye diseases include glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, and each one of these diseases can develop without symptoms.

What Should You Do?

Each patient is different, and optometrists work hard to cater to their needs. Many resources, including the American Optometric Association, have their recommendations for how often a patient should have an eye physical, but MOA recommends adult patients to have an eye physical once every year, even if they are low risk.

By maintaining regular eye physicals, optometrists can detect issues early and can create a management or treatment plan to serve the patients’ needs best.

Special tools and equipment, like phoropters, are used to determine your eye health and visual strength.

The Eye Physical Process

Even if you have a low risk of developing an eye disease, eye physicals are no less comprehensive. For each patient that comes in for an eye physical, optometrists will work hard to ensure their eyes have what they need to maintain their health and vision.

During an eye physical, the patient will follow these steps:

Initial Discussion

Right before the eye physical, the optometrist will have a detailed discussion with the patient regarding their health history, family health history, and the demands their lifestyle puts on their eyes and vision.

During this discussion, the patient can ask as many questions they would like about their eye health and vision. The better understanding the optometrist has about the patient’s vision, the better they can orientate the physical to serve the patient’s needs.

Visual Strength & Acuity Tests

After finishing the initial discussion, the next step is to assess the patient’s visual strength and acuity. Optometrists can perform several tests to determine the patient’s visual strength, but the most common include a phoropter or Snellen eye chart.

Following these assessments, the optometrist can determine the type of lens prescription the patient needs to achieve clear vision. It should be noted, however, that clear vision is not guaranteed following an eye physical, but optometrists can develop a plan to help improve their patient’s vision.

Eye Health Assessment & Disease Screening

Following the visual strength and acuity tests, the next step is to screen for eye diseases. Screenings are performed regardless if the patient has a history of eye disease.

Assessments are performed by dilating the pupil and using OCT scans, retinal imaging, slit-lamp examination, and more to determine possible issues.

Next Steps

After completing the eye physical, the optometrist will provide the patient with any medications or prescriptions required to maintain their eye health. If something more serious is discovered, the optometrist will work with the patient to create a detailed plan to manage or treat it.

Eye physicals are not just for those who already have eye problems. Even if the patient has 20/20 vision and a very low risk of developing an eye disease, it is still recommended to visit the optometrist annually.

Are you due for an eye physical? Please request your appointment with our team today.

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  • Written by: Bryan MacDonald

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