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Video:What Happens at an Eye Exam

with Dr. Stephen Rozenberg

If you are having problems with your vision, a doctor can perform any number of eye exams to diagnose the problem. See what happens when you go to the doctor to receive an eye exam.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Happens at an Eye Exam

Hello, this is Dr. Stephen Rozenberg from 10/10 Optics in NYC, here for About.com. I am going to talk about what to expect during an eye exam.

Types of Eye Exams

There are a number of different types of eye exams. Some doctors do all and some only some. I will try to help you select what is best for your needs. Most people who make appointments for eye exams, do so because they have an eyesight problem.

Refraction Eye Exam

The exam to find out if you need glasses -- and, if so, what the correct prescription for you is -- is called a refraction. Many doctors who are on insurance plans will charge an extra fee to do a refraction, so call first. I suggest that the refraction be done by a qualified Optometrist or Ophthalmologist only. There will be some preliminary tests done first, but the main test here is to present different lenses to you while you are behind an instrument called a phoropter or refractor. You will see a chart of letters and the doctor will ask you which lens makes the letters you are looking at easier to see.

Evaluating Your Needs

The doctor should talk to you about your particular needs, based on your profession, lifestyle, and any specific problems you are having. The doctor should be able to discuss all different types of lenses that may be helpful to you.

The Eye Health Exam

A second type of exam is the eye health exam. This will also be done by a qualified Ophthalmologist or Optometrist. This is a generalization, but all ophthalmologists will do a full eye health evaluation included dilating your eyes, (drops that open up your pupils for a few hours). Most Optometrists do this as well, but some will specialize in refractions or contact lenses. They will do a number of eye health screening tests, but refer you out for a complete dilated exam. Call first and ask questions. Getting back to my generalization, many ophthalmologists are not so interested in doing refractions, some even teach technicians to do this. Call first.

Parts of the Eye Health Exam

Most parts of the eye health exam are non invasive. The doctor will look at eye movements, responses of your pupils to light, look at your eyes with lights and with a microscope while you place your head on the chin rest of the scope. The invasive part is the drops for dilation and the glaucoma test. Some doctors screen with a gentle air puff machine, others use drops, and while your eyes are temporarily numb from a different drop, touch your cornea, (the front clear part of the eye) for a split second with a flat probe. Painless. If any problems are found then further testing and examining will be scheduled. Not all doctors examine children under 6, so call first.

Low Vision Exam

If a person has vision that cannot be corrected with glasses due to some type of pathology or congenital problem, then they may need a "low vision" exam. A few optometrists specialize in low vision. In a low vision exam they test you using special lenses and devices and may be able to help you see better.

Vision Therapy

Finally, if you have problems with the way your eyes work together, team together, focus together or if you have problems processing visual information or have dyslexia or learning problems, you should see an optometrist who specializes in “vision therapy”. The doctor will perform many tests to asses your visual system. These tests measure visual skills and are preformed after a normal eye exam has been done. All tests are non invasive.

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