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The Eye Exam Demystified

While you may not look forward to your annual health exams, including eye exams, it's important for maintaining your well-being. These tips can help you know what to expect.

Before: Whether you’re having an annual exam or a glaucoma screening, skip alcohol, which can dilate blood vessels, and rest your eyes the day before (avoid a late night of computer work). Book your appointment in the morning, when eye pressure is higher, making it easier to detect problems, says Sanjay Asrani, an associate professor of ophthalmology and a glaucoma specialist at the Duke Eye Center, in Durham, N.C. Bring a list of all medications you’re taking and your glasses.

During: You’ll look at charts with letters and numbers to assess your vision. Your eyes may be dilated with drops. During a glaucoma test, when the eyes’ internal pressure is measured and your peripheral vision is checked, you’ll press a clicker when you see a flashing light (the visual field test).

After: The dilation of your eyes may take a few hours to wear off. Have a friend take you home or to work, and wear sunglasses outside, since your eyes might be light-sensitive. Your eyes may feel tired and heavy after a glaucoma screening.

When your eyes should be tested

Early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision. It is important to have your eyes examined regularly. Your eyes should be tested:

  • before age 40, every two to four years
  • from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
  • from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months

Anyone with high risk factors, should be tested every year or two after age 35.

Sources: foxnews.com and glaucoma.org

Last reviewed on December 21, 2011

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