What to Expect During Your Eye Exam at LensCrafters
How to Prepare for an Eye Exam
Eye exams are key to maintaining good eye health, especially if you are at risk for for visual impairment. These exams can help determine if you need to get glasses or contacts or if you need to update an already existing prescription, as well as help identify any ocular problems such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, or cataracts. Visiting the eye doctor doesn’t need to be intimidating. In fact, planning ahead and knowing how to prepare for an eye exam can put you at ease and help you make the most out of your visit.
Scheduling an Eye Exam
Make a list of any eye problems you’re experiencing.The could include seeing flashes of light, seeing double, experiencing blurry vision, eye pain, frequent headaches, or having difficulty distinguishing between reds and greens.
Identify any recent health issues or family history of eye problems.This can help you determine when it’s time to schedule an eye exam. For example, if you had a recent injury or operations which you suspect is affecting your vision, call a clinic immediately to schedule an appointment.
- If anybody in your family, especially your parents, has had glaucoma, cataracts, or other eye conditions such as macular degeneration, you may be at higher risk of developing the same conditions. For example, family history of glaucoma can increase your risk of developing the condition by four to nine times.Even if you don’t experience any symptoms yourself, you should schedule a yearly eye exam.
- You are also at greater risk of eye problems if you have diabetes or hypertension, wear contact lenses, have had eye surgery, take medication with side effects that affect the eye, or if your occupation is highly demanding visually or eye-hazardous.
Prepare a list of any questions you have.This list can be helpful so that you can clearly state the purpose of your visit. It can also be helpful to have this list handy during your visit so that you don’t forget to ask anything you may have been wondering about.
- You could ask your doctor a variety of questions, ranging from whether your vision has changed significantly since your last visit to whether you can do anything differently to care for your eyes. You can also ask what you should look out for when it comes to your vision or what the difference between wearing glasses and contact lenses is.
- Be ready to listen to any answers your doctor may give to your questions. If you do have a problem with your vision, it will probably be best to address this sooner rather than later, and your doctor is your best bet for recommending any necessary treatment.
Determine the type of eye doctor you should see.There are two main types of eye doctors, and seeing the right eye care professional can affect the sort of care you receive.
- An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who, having undergone three to eight years of training after college (depending on their specialty), specializes in eye care. Ophthalmologists can perform eye surgery and treat a variety of medical conditions of the eye.
- An optometrist can treat medical conditions of the eye with non-surgical methods. They can prescribe medicine, eye drops, glasses, and contacts. Optometrists have received 4+ years of training after college but are not medical doctors.
Research doctors in your area.Eye doctors can specialize in a variety of areas, such as retina, cornea, glaucoma, neurology, and pediatric, among others. Some eye doctors will provide general, non-specified care. Determine the sort of care you need by reviewing your symptoms and ocular history.
- Look individual doctors up through your insurance company’s website. Eye doctors will frequently list their main areas of practice on their websites. This is also the best way to make sure that your doctor takes your insurance. Make a decision about the doctor you’ll see after thoroughly reviewing all options in your area.
Call to make an appointment.If your vision problems are urgent, stress the urgency of your problem and try to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You’ll find that some doctors are booked up if you give short-term notice that you would like to schedule an appointment. Still, you can ask if you can be put on a waiting list in case any spots open up.
- There are suggested guidelines for how frequently people should have an eye exam depending on their age and whether or not they are at risk for visual impairment.
- During your call, ask whether the office accepts your insurance and is in-network. This can affect how much you are billed for your visit.
Ask whether your pupils will be dilated during your exam.If so, you should plan to bring sunglasses and ask a friend or family member to drive you to and from your appointment. Dilation causes sensitivity to light and will make it hard to focus on nearby objects for up to several hours, so it may be unsafe for you to drive.
Bringing the Necessary Items
Carry your insurance card and ID with you, if applicable.These are both documents that the clinic may have to photocopy if you are a new patient so that they can start a file under your name.
- If you’re a minor, your parent or guardian may need to show their insurance card and ID.
Bring a method of payment.You may have a co-pay for your visit; the amount will depend on what insurance you have. If you anticipate needing to buy glasses, bring a credit card with you. Many clinics will sell glasses and contact lenses in-house, so you can take care of this purchase right after your eye exam.
- If you don't have your own method of payment, ask a parent or guardian to accompany you on your visit so that you can get the necessary items you need.
Download and fill out any forms you may need to bring.It can save you time the day of the visit to have filled out any necessary documents ahead of time. You can often download any required documents from the doctor’s website. You can also ask the clinic to fax you any necessary documents when you schedule your appointment.
Bring a list of any medications you take.Include the dosages for each medication. Also write down any nutritional supplements you take along with the dosages for these.
Bring your current eyewear.This can help your doctor determine whether your current prescription is right for you. Make sure to bring your regular glasses, sunglasses, reading glasses, and/or contact lenses.
- You will likely be asked to remove your glasses or contact lenses during your exam, especially if your doctor does a test using dye, which could stain your eyewear.
Knowing What to Expect During the Visit
Arrive 10 minutes early.If you are new to the clinic, this will give you ample time to fill out any paperwork the office may need in order to perform your exam.
Expect a pre-test.This can include being asked about your medical history, your history of ocular problems, and your family history. Your pre-test may consist of any of the following:
- An initial eye test to measure your eye pressure and visual acuity. This may be conducted by a clinical assistant. The main way this test is done is by looking into an instrument that blows a small puff of air into your eye. This can feel startling but lasts only a fraction of a second. The test can also be done by placing an instrument that looks like a pen on the surface of the eyeball. This is not painful — it feel like putting a contact lens in your eye.
- Pretests done by a clinical assistant may also involve placing your chin on the a chin rest of an instrument and looking at an image of a hot air balloon that goes in and out of focus. This test estimates your distance prescription. Another test may involve looking at a monitor and clicking a button whenever you see a flashing light.
Expect a thorough exam.The exam will be conducted by your doctor in any of the following ways:
- A cover test. This is a simple way to check your your eye alignment. A doctor or clinical assistant will cover one of your eyes and ask you to focus on an object across the room, then an object nearby.
- A retinoscopy. This test is much simpler than it sounds — the lights in the room are dimmed, you look at a chart with differently-sized letters, and your doctor flips lenses in a machine that’s in front of your eyes until you see the largest letter clearly.
- Slit lamp exam. For this test, you will rest your chin and forehead on a large instrument that will allow your doctor to examine the back of your eye. You will be asked to look in specific directions as the lamp shines a high-intensity light into your eyes. Sometimes the doctor will also use a hand-held lens to look at the back of your eye.
- Subjective refraction. The doctor may also show you a series of lens choices and ask you which of the two lenses looks clearer: choice one or choice two? You will pick one of the two options, then the doctor will fine tune and provide you with further options. The process is repeated until you reach the prescription that best matches your needs.
Be fitted for glasses, if applicable.This will involve taking into consideration your budget, face shape, prescription, and style. Vision insurance plans will often cover a portion of your glasses expenses, but the costs can still run high depending on the type of glasses you get, so set a maximum amount you’re willing to spend on your new glasses and try not to go beyond it.
- The strength of your prescription may limit the style of glasses you get. Stronger prescriptions mean thicker lenses. Thick plastic frames can help conceal the lenses, and you may also consider buying high-index lenses, which are thinner and lighter. Take this into consideration when setting a budget, as high-index lenses tend to be more expensive.
- When setting your budget, also consider whether you will want anti-reflective coating, which will add to the price tag but can reduce your eyestrain and improve your vision by reducing glare.
- Many anti-glare coatings also have scratch resistance and easy to clean properties also.
Expect to update your prescription, if applicable.If you can’t see well with your current prescription, your doctor may recommend making adjustments. This will entail getting new lenses or glasses.
- Consider how well you’re taking care of your glasses or your contact lenses. Change your habits, if need be, to prolong the life of your eyewear. If you wear glasses, it is recommended that you clean them with dish soap and a microfiber cloth.If you wear contacts, it is recommended that you take them out every night and rinse them thoroughly.
Schedule a follow-up visit.Ask your doctor whether you should schedule an annual checkup or whether your visits should be more frequent. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that all adults who require a prescription and any adults who are age 61 or older see their doctor yearly.
- If you don’t need vision correction and are between ages 18 and 60, the AOA recommends you have an eye exam every two years.
- Those who are at risk for visual impairment must follow a different schedule. People between the ages of six and 18 years should have their eyes examined every year. If the eye doctor recommends a different schedule, follow your doctor's recommendation.
- If you are experiencing significant vision problems, it may be wise to ask a friend or trusted acquaintance to drive you to and from your appointment.
- Let your doctor know immediately if your new glasses or contacts aren’t working out.
Video: Vision Test Preparation
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