Routine Eye check up

What is Eye Check Up

By far the best way to protect the on-going health of your vision is through regular eye examinations. These routine examinations allow the detection of any injuries, disease or abnormality as soon as possible and the initiation of any relevant treatment. It also ensures that if and when you need vision correction, such as eyeglasses and/or contact lenses, that your prescription is exactly what you need to benefit best and achieve optimal vision.

How do I know if I need an eye examination?

Routine eye examinations should be done at various intervals during your life:

  • Birth to 2 years: At the age of 6 and 12 months
  • Age 3 to 5 years: Once during this time
  • Age 6 to 17 years: Before the first grade and after the year
  • Age 18 to 39 years: At least every 2 years
  • Age 40 to 64 years: At least every 2 years
  • Age 65 and older: Annually

However, for those who are considered “at risk”, the regular routine eye check-ups should be increased. In such cases, your ophthalmologist will advise you on how often you should undergo an eye examination.

Those considered to be at risk and require an eye examination include the following categories:

  • Family history of a variety of eye conditions, including myopia, congenital cataracts and other genetic or metabolic diseases
  • Premature birth, low birth weight, supplemental oxygen therapy at birth
  • Difficult or assisted labor (whether or not related to fetal discomfort)
  • Maternal drug use, smoking or alcohol use during pregnancy
  • High refractive error
  • Known or suspected neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Systemic health conditions with the possibility of ocular manifestations
  • Eye surgery or eye injury
  • High or progressive refractive error
  • Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications with ocular side effects
  • Having functional vision on only one eye
  • Eye surgery or eye injury
  • Personal or family history of ocular disease
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Undertaking professions that are visually demanding or have a high probability of being hazardous to the eyes
  • Certain racial and ethnic groups
  • Eye strain and/or blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Red eyes
  • Floaters
  • Blind spots in vision
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Any other eye-related issue

Routine eye tests are nothing to be worried about. They are painless and usually take about 20-30 minutes. If you are visiting a new ophthalmologist, the appointment will take a little longer to allow for a complete medical history. During the first visit, you will be asked questions such as:

  • Do you have any eye problems, in the past or present?
  • Do you wear glasses and/or contact lenses?
  • Have you ever had eye surgery?
  • Is there any family history of eye problems?
  • What is your medical history?
  • Do you take any regular medication?
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have or is there any family history of, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes?

You will also be asked about any current vision problems.

Then the doctor will perform several different tests. These include checking the internal structures of the eye and measuring your visual acuity to determine if you need corrective lenses or if your current lenses need to be changed.

  • Visual acuity test This measures the sharpness of your vision. You will be asked to read a series of letters at a distance that decrease in size. This tests your distant vision. Near vision is analyzed by reading a small hand-held chart.
  • Refraction assessment This measures how light waves bent as they pass through the eye. Errors cause the light not to focus perfectly on the back of the eye and may require some form of correction.
  • Glaucoma test
    • This measures the pressure inside your eye using an aerotonometer. This is the most common method of screening for glaucoma and is known as contactless tonometry as it does not touch the eye. It is painless.
    • Another option is Applanation Tonometry. If this is done, you will be given eye drops to numb the eye. Then the doctor will use a small instrument to touch the cornea and measure eye pressure.
  • You will also be tested for your ability to distinguish different colours, how your eye muscles work (ocular motility test), depth perception (stereopsis test), undergo a visual field test to determine your overall field of vision, a slit lamp examination and a retinal examination. The latter two might involve the use of eye drops to allow the doctor to fully assess the function and interior structures of the eyes.