If you want to have your eyes checked, are you going to request an eye exam or a sight test? Are these two terms one and the same? The answer is no.
An eye exam is done by a licensed doctor of optometry. It’s an exam that studies and assesses your eye health. It’s used to evaluate the condition of your eyes and helps come up with a diagnosis. Part of an eye exam is to check eye pressure for glaucoma as well as exams to check for macular degeneration and cataracts.
Meanwhile, a sight test is not done by a doctor. The scope of this test is limited and it only gives you an eyeglass prescription through a machine. Let’s dig deeper into the differences between the two.
As mentioned, an eye exam is performed by a licensed doctor of optometry. An eye doctor will study your eyes, eyesight, and prescription. Undergoing regular eye exams falls under preventive health care. If you go through regular physical exams, eye exams are basically the same thing. This exam will allow your eye doctor to assess your eyes and detect eye diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, retina detachments, glaucoma. Not only that, but your eye doctor can also identify potential health problems like brain tumors, high blood pressure, and diabetes based on your eye health.
Your eye doctor will use digitalized instruments to produce an estimate of your prescription before giving you more thorough refraction. These are all made possible by the years they dedicated to learning and training not just to test your eyes with the help of instruments but to also interpret the results.
A typical eye exam includes a comprehensive case history of your past and present vision issues. Included in the history taking is your family’s vision history. You will be asked questions about your work environment and other recreational activities you do at home. The answers to these questions will help reveal your visual needs.
When you’re scheduled for an eye exam expect that your eye doctor will measure the visual acuity of both your eyes with and without your corrective lenses. Your eyes will also be tested for eye coordination, movements, and depth perception. Depending on your case, some eye doctors test for eye-hand coordination.
Part of an eye exam is to do a color vision evaluation. Some of the instruments used during an eye exam include an ophthalmoscope and biomicroscope. These instruments can detect simple to complex problems, not just diseases that affect your eyes but also conditions from other parts of your body.
A sight test is done through automated equipment. This equipment will describe the refraction to identify the lens power needed. Unfortunately, this test is not as accurate and as comprehensive as an eye exam.
This test does not include eye muscle coordination, pupil size, eye fixation and alignment, and lens and corneal irregularities. The inaccuracy of a sight test will overlook serious eye diseases since the eye isn’t examined. Usually, people with eye diseases do not experience vision problems until the disease has become advanced.
Examples of diseases that aren’t detected by a sight test include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, brain tumors, eye tumors, high blood pressure, and retinal detachment.
How Often Should You Have Your Eyes Examined?
Ideally, you should get an eye exam every two years. But, if you ever experience visual deterioration in one or both eyes you should go see an optometrist as soon as possible. People with eye diseases, vision problems, seniors, and kids are encouraged to undergo eye exams every year.