Eye Exams for People Over 60
As we age, eye exams become even more important. Vision problems may develop with no physical symptoms until they’re quite advanced.
When you see your optometrist, make sure you talk about your current concerns, health issues and your family history. The more your eye care professional knows, the better protected you’ll be against potentially debilitating vision loss.
What To Expect at an Eye Exam
Typically, your optometrist will review your personal and family health history for eye hereditary problems of eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or poor vision.
Then your optometrist will conduct tests to check for:
- Vision - The optometrist can check for shortsightedness (myopia), longsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism and presbyopia. While you look at an eye chart, the optometrist will measure your vision precisely, and, if necessary, determine a prescription for corrective lenses.
- Coordination of eye muscles - The optometrist will move a light in a set pattern to test your ability to see sharply and clearly at near and far distances, and to use both eyes together.
- Side (peripheral) vision - The optometrist will move an object at the edge of your field of vision to make sure you can see it.
- Pupil response to light - The optometrist will shine a light in your eye and watch the pupil's reaction.
- Colour testing - The optometrist will ask you to describe figures in a series of illustrations made up of numerous coloured dots or circles. This tests your ability to differentiate colours.
- Eyelid health and function - The optometrist will examine your eyelid, inside and out.
- The interior and back of the eye - After dilating your eyes (by both using a few eye drops and dimming the lights so the pupils will widen), the optometrist will use a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope to see through to the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. This is where clues to many eye diseases first show up.
- Measurement of fluid pressure - The optometrist will release a puff of air onto your eye using an instrument called a tonometer. This tests the pressure inside the eye, an early indicator of glaucoma and other diseases.
Monitor for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Your eye care professional will examine the back of your eye using special instruments to detect and monitor conditions affecting the macula.
You may also self-monitor between professional visits by looking at an Amsler grid. This is a pattern that resembles a checkerboard with a dot in the centre. While staring at the dot, you may notice that the straight lines in the pattern appear wavy. Or you may notice that some of the lines are missing. Print and take the quick vision test using the Amsler grid(72.3 KB, PDF). By looking at an Amsler grid regularly you can monitor any sudden changes in your vision. If you do notice any changes, contact your eye doctor right away.
- Do the test with each eye separately by covering the eye that’s not being tested.
- Hold the test grid directly in front of you, about 30 cm from your face, and look at the dot in the centre of the grid, not at the lines.
- While looking at the dot, all the lines, both vertical and horizontal, should appear straight and unbroken.
- If any of the straight lines appear wavy, or you notice that some of the lines seem to be missing, note their location on the grid for future reference.
- Remember, this test would not replace your regularly scheduled eye examinations.
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