How Do Eye Exams Work

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The Difference Between Vision Tests And Eye Exams

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This new wave of online health services, or those received through telephone or videoconferencing, is described as telemedicine.

The way I see telemedicine is, its a more unique method of delivering health care to individuals, whereby its a lot more accessible, Lee said. Unlike the typical brick and mortar type locations where you need to make an appointment and go in, telemedicine allows individuals to seek care at their convenience.

Spetalnick said, there is such a thing as telemedicine, and its a positive, but he added that he has some concerns about where online vision testing fits in.

Eye care patients tend to think that an eye exam is just a measurement for glasses, and that is a real important test, because people want to see well out of their glasses. But its a fairly small part of an overall comprehensive eye examination and has no impact, or very little impact, on assessing the health of the eye, Spetalnick said.

There is a standard of care when an eye doctor is expected to perform an eye exam and the eye exam is expected to determine if the patient does or doesnt have things like glaucoma, retina problems, even diabetes can be detected, he said.

Opternative states on its website that its not a replacement for a comprehensive eye health examination. Rather, its a device that can only be used to prescribe glasses and contact lens prescriptions by licensed physicians.

What Do Online Eye Exam Companies Promise

One online company in particular, Opternative, has come under scrutiny recently for claiming to offer refractive eye exams that are just as accurate as an in-person exam with an optometrist. Needless to say, the claim drew the attention of the American Optometric Association , an organization that represents nearly 40,000 optometrists, optometry students, and paraoptometric technicians and assistants, as well as the American Academy of Ophthalmology , the largest national membership association of ophthalmologists, osteopathic doctors, and medical doctors in the country.

According to Opternative, in order to take the online refractive eye exam, a patient needs to be between the ages of 18 and 40 and have access to a computer and a smartphone. Following a series of online visual tests and multiple choice questions, the patients results are then sent to a physician to approve or deny the patients glasses or contact lens prescriptions within at least 24 hours. Based on Opternatives own clinical study, the results of the online refractive test are just as accurate as a traditional exam and only use technology that has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Both the AOA and AAO have openly challenged the online company, stating that Opternatives claims are misleading to consumers because they highlight convenience, low costs, and FDA approval without providing adequate information about the limitations of the test.

What Does A Comprehensive Eye Exam Include

A comprehensive eye exam includes testing with eye charts that help the doctor determine the sharpness of your vision. We will check your visual acuity, or how well you are able to identify details. This is generally done with charts like the Snellen eye chart.

People usually recognize this test, though they may not know it by name. With an âEâ at the top and eleven rows of capital letters, the Snellen chart helps the doctor determine your visual acuity. The fourth line from the bottom is â20/20â vision. This means you can see as well at 20 feet as someone with adequate visual acuity should. Some people can see even better than this, but 20/20 is the standard. It generally means you donât need corrective lenses to drive or do other everyday activities.

If you are unable to read the smaller lines, the doctor will ask you to determine the characters on the higher lines. From there, a starting point is determined for further testing to narrow down your unique prescription.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor does much more than just determine your prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. Our staff will also check your eyes for common eye diseases, color vision, assess how your eyes work together, and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health.

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How To Do An Eye Exam

This article was medically reviewed by Theodore Leng, MD. Dr. Leng is a board certified Ophthalmologist and Vitreoretinal Surgeon and an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford University. He completed his MD and Vitreoretinal Surgical Fellowship at Stanford University in 2010. Dr. Leng is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American College of Surgeons. He is also a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the Retina Society, the Macula Society, the Vit-Buckle Society, as well as the American Society of Retina Specialists. He received the Honor Award by the American Society of Retina Specialists in 2019.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 240,462 times.

An eye exam is a regular check-up performed by a licensed physician to assess your vision and the health of your eyes. A regular eye exam will include several tests to check on your eyes, while the doctor may provide additional exams to deal with any potential problems. Like any doctors appointment, a good exam will involve more than just what happens in the exam room. Making sure you are prepared for your exam will help it go smoothly. Following up your appointment will ensure you get the most out of your treatment and keep your eyes healthy and strong.

How The Test Is Performed

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First, you will be asked if you are having any eye or vision problems. You will be asked to describe these problems, how long you have had them, and any factors that have made them better or worse.

Your history of glasses or contact lenses will also be reviewed. The eye doctor will then ask about your overall health, including any medicines you take and your family’s medical history.

Next, the doctor will check your vision using a Snellen chart.

  • You will be asked to read random letters that become smaller line by line as your eyes move down the chart. Some Snellen charts are actually video monitors showing letters or images.
  • To see if you need glasses, the doctor will place several lenses in front of your eye, one at a time, and ask you when the letters on the Snellen chart become easier to see. This is called a refraction.

Other parts of the exam include tests to:

  • See if you have proper three-dimensional vision .
  • Check your side vision.
  • Check the eye muscles by asking you to look in different directions at a penlight or other small object.
  • Examine the pupils with a penlight to see if they respond properly to light.
  • Often, you’ll be given eye drops to open up your pupils. This allows the doctor to use a device called an ophthalmoscope to view the structures at the back of the eye. This area is called the fundus. It includes the retina and nearby blood vessels and optic nerve.

Another magnifying device, called a slit lamp, is used to:

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Online Eye Exams Are Available Do They Work

Online eye exams are cheaper and easier than in-office visits, but experts say people still need to go to the eye doctor for more comprehensive tests.

First came the ability to have eyeglasses made online.

Now you can have an eye exam online, too.

The question to focus on is: Are these online eye exams effective?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , only half of the estimated 61 million adults in the United States who are at high risk for serious vision loss saw an eye doctor in the past year.

About 14 million Americans aged 12 years and older report that they have a visual impairment defined as distance visual acuity of 20/50 or worse. Among them, more than 11 million could have improved their vision to 20/40 or better if they had refractive correction.

Opternative is a new company that offers eye exams online.

After patients take the online eye exam, they receive a physician-approved prescription within 24 hours.

An Opternative eye exam costs $40 for a glasses or contact lens prescription, or $60 for both. The companys service is available in 29 states.

According to a clinical trial done on 30 people and listed on the companys website, the Opternative eye exam is just as accurate as a traditional office exam.

Aaron Dallek, chief executive officer and cofounder of Opternative, told Healthline that his service uses the only technology registered with the Food and Drug Administration that provides physician-reviewed prescriptions.

Which Humana Vision Plans Include Coverage For Eye Exams

Humana offers individual and family insurance plans that can help you pay for eye exams. For example, Humana Vision* members get 1 comprehensive eye exam once every 12 months for a $15 copay with a network provider.14 Humana Vision has no age restrictions but cannot be added onto Medicare plans.

If you have Medicare, you could get routine vision coverage through a .

How much youll pay for vision insurance through Humana may vary based on your age and location. to view price estimates for where you live.

* Humana Vision is sold in the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CT, FL, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NM, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, WI, WV.

Humana Vision is not sold in the following states: AK, AR, CO, DC, DE, GA, HI, ID MA, MD ME, MN, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OR, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA, VT, WA, WY.

This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Humana is the brand name for plans, products and services provided by one or more of the subsidiaries and affiliate companies of Humana Inc. . Plans, products, and services are solely and only provided by one or more Humana Entities specified on the plan, product, or service contract, not Humana Inc. Not all plans, products, and services are available in each state.

Medical Plans

Individual Dental and Vision Plans

Group Dental and Vision Plans

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What Is A Refraction Eye Exam

A refraction eye exam helps your eye doctor figure out what prescription you need for glasses or contact lenses. To test this, your doctor may have you look into a machine that displays lenses of different strengths. By switching the lens in front of each eye while you read letters and numbers on a chart, your doctor can figure out which lens is best for you. This refraction test also helps your doctor to determine if you need a different strength lens in each eye.

What To Expect During A Routine Eye Exam

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Routine eye exams are straightforward, quick and painless. Most doctors recommend screening your vision on an annual basis to ensure your vision prescription is up to date and to make sure your eyes are healthy. Regular eye exams are the first line of defense against eye disorders, such as chronic dry eye, inflammation, glaucoma, age-related issues and cataracts.

During a regular visit, you can expect your optometrist to perform the following tests to determine your eye health:

Pre-Exam Tests. A technician will often perform a few basic tests before you see the doctor, including a color sensitivity test, peripheral vision test, a glaucoma and a cover test to determine how well your eyes work together. He or she may also use an autorefractor, which automatically measures your vision prescription, to gain a ballpark understanding of your vision needs.

Pupillary Reactions. Using a light, the doctor checks your pupils responsiveness. Your pupils response to light is a natural function of the eye and is critical to your vision. While using the light, the doctor will also look at the surface of your eye for signs of dry eye, corneal scratches and bacterial debris.


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Eye Focusing Eye Teaming And Eye Movement Testing

To see a clear, single image, the eyes must effectively change focus, move and work in unison. An assessment of accommodation, ocular motility, and binocular vision determines how well your eyes focus, move and work together. This testing will look for problems that keep eyes from focusing effectively or make using both eyes together difficult.

What Is An Eye Exam

During a complete eye exam, your provider takes a close look at your eyes and does several tests. Some tests check your vision and determine if you need glasses or contacts. Other tests assess your eye health and check for eye disease. An exam can help providers evaluate your overall health.

Your provider will use special equipment, instruments and lights to look in your eyes. These tests dont usually hurt, but they may be a little uncomfortable. With regular eye exams, your provider monitors changes in your vision, detects eye problems and helps you keep your eyes healthy.

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What To Expect From A Vision Test

A vision test is a relatively short examination compared to a full eye exam. It is often a precursor to identify if you need a full eye exam, as it identifies whether you have a vision problem rather than identifying what the issue is.

However, vision tests are relatively easy to conduct and you do not need an optometrist or ophthalmologist present, as an optician, nurse, and other medical professionals are capable of performing the test.

The vision test is usually a set of simple vision tests and assessments such as:

  • Testing your vision using the “Big E” or “Snellen” chart
  • Testing your eye’s reaction to light and muscle coordination using simple charts or following a light to test your reactions
  • Some vision screenings also test for colour blindness using colour charts like the Ishihara Colour test

As these tests are relatively simple and not that comprehensive, it is important to provide as much information during this test. Sharing any vision impairments, injuries to your eyes, or a family history of vision conditions, will be helpful to the professional conducting your test. They can then look out for tell-tale signs of possible conditions and recommend the correct course of action. This is usually a comprehensive eye exam.

Are My Eyes At Risk


If you have a health condition like high blood pressure, work in a job that requires you to use your eyes a lot, or take drugs that can affect eyesight, you may need more frequent exams.

If you have type 1 diabetes, get your eyes checked within 5 years of your diagnosis and every year after that.

Youâll need an exam ASAP if youâre diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Have your eyes checked every year after that.

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Getting Your Eye Exam Results

Once your eye exam is over, your doctor should be ready to discuss the preliminary results with you. Feel free to ask any questions that come to mind at this stage, whether theyre about your eyes specifically or general eye health.

Definitely ask when your optometrist recommends that you come back for your next appointment, especially if they found signs of an eye condition that should be monitored.

This is also the point at which youll get your eye prescription! It will spell out all the specifications for your corrective lenses, should you need them. Youre legally entitled to a copy of your prescription, and its good to have on hand for later eyewear purchases.

Reading Your Eyeglass Prescription

When reading your prescription, the first abbreviations you will notice are the letters OD and OS. OD refers to your right eye, while OS refers to your left eye. If your prescription is the same for both eyes, your eye doctor may use the abbreviation OU.

The first number in a prescription is the spherical correction , which measures how powerful the lens needs to be to correct either nearsightedness or farsightedness .

The second number is the cylindrical correction which is only needed if you have astigmatism.

The third number, the axis, determines the direction of the astigmatism in degrees. Again, this is only needed if you have astigmatism.

In addition to these numbers, your prescription may have other notes related to specific lens design or coatings to give you the most comfortable vision correction possible.

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How Much Does An Eye Exam Cost

Eye exam costs vary greatly, depending where you get them done. Retail vision providers may charge you under $100 and in some cases even less if you purchase contacts or eye glasses. Independent eye doctors cost more. If you have vision coverage, review your plan documents so you know what services your plan covers and what your share of the cost may be.

How Often Should I Get An Eye Exam

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Getting an eye exam once every one or two years can help identify vision problems early on and improve vision quality if you need prescription changes.

Factors such as age, health, and a family history of vision problems may determine how often you need an eye exam. Many vision plans cover you for an annual comprehensive eye exam.

Be sure to talk to your eye doctor to figure out how often your eyes need to be checked. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, they may recommend more frequent exams.

If you are under the age of 40 and dont have eye problems, you may only need an eye exam every 2 years. After age 40, consider going once a year. This is especially important if you notice a change in your vision, or if you have a family history of diabetes or glaucoma.

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