General Eye Care & Exams at Larson Eye Center
The doctors and staff at Larson Eye Center are pleased to provide a full range of comprehensive eye care services including routine eye examinations for eye health and vision. We strongly recommend that all patients have routine eye examinations on a regular basis.
How Often Should I Have My Eyes Examined?
The frequency of your eye examinations depends on many factors. Your age, general health, family history of eye problems, and history of treatment for any eye conditions or diseases in the past will determine how often our doctors suggest that you schedule your visits. We follow the American Association of Ophthalmology guidelines for eye exams. If you have any of these risk factors for eye problems, you may need to see your doctor more often than recommended below:
- Family history of eye problems
- African American over age 40
- History of eye injury
Before Age 3
Since it is possible for your child to have a serious vision problem without being aware of it, your child should have his or her eyes screened during regular pediatric appointments. Vision testing is recommended for all children starting around 3 years of age.
If there is a family history of vision problems or if your child appears to have any of the following conditions speak to your eye doctor promptly about when and how often your child's eyes should be examined:
- Strabismus (crossed eyes)
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Ptosis (drooping of the upper eyelid)
Age 3 to 19
To ensure your child or teenager's eyes remain healthy, he or she should have his or her eyes screened every one to two years during regular pediatric or family physician check-up appointments.
As of January 1, 2008 the State of Illinois requires a complete eye examination for all children entering kindergarten or an Illinois school, regardless of age, for the first time. We have several doctors on staff who perform these School Vision Exams.
Age 20 to 39
Most young adults have healthy eyes, but they still need to take care of their vision by wearing protective eyewear when playing sports, doing yard work, working with chemicals, or taking part in other activities that could cause an eye injury.
Have a complete eye exam at least once between the ages of 20 and 29 and at least twice between the ages of 30 and 39. Also, be aware of symptoms that could indicate a problem. See an eye doctor if you experience any eye conditions, such as:
- Visual changes or pain
- Flashes of light
- Seeing spots or ghost-like images
- Lines appear distorted or wavy
- Dry eyes with itching and burning
Age 40 to 64
As of July 2007, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has issued a new eye disease screening recommendation for aging adults. The Academy now recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40—the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of the initial screening, an ophthalmologist will prescribe the necessary intervals for follow-up exams.
For individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease, such as those with a family history of eye disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, the Academy recommends that individuals see their ophthalmologist to determine how frequently their eyes should be examined. The new recommendation does not replace regular visits to the ophthalmologist to treat ongoing disease or injuries, or for vision examinations for eye glasses or contact lenses. Much like mammograms at 40 or colon screenings at 50, this new eye disease screening is a reminder to adults as they age that they need to maintain their eye health.
Why the New Recommendation?
A baseline evaluation is important because it may detect eye diseases common in adults aged 40 and older. The evaluation creates greater opportunity for early treatment and preservation of vision.
A thorough ophthalmologic evaluation can uncover common abnormalities of the visual system and related structures, as well as less common but extremely serious ones, such as ocular tumors. This evaluation can also uncover evidence of many forms of systemic disease that affect the eyes, like hypertension and diabetes. With appropriate intervention, potentially blinding diseases such as glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy often have a favorable outcome.
Several common eye diseases can impact people 40 and older without them knowing there is any problem with their eyes.
Age 65 and Over
Seniors age 65 and over should have complete eye exams by their eye doctor every one to two years to check for cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other eye conditions.
Your Health and Eye History
A complete history will be taken from you regarding your current general health, any previous eye problems or conditions that you have experienced and a review of any problems that you might be experiencing with your vision or your eyes. This will be important information to provide during your screening process. If you have any chronic health problems, even if they are currently stable it is important that you share this information as well.
Please be sure to tell the eye doctor about any medications you are taking for these medical conditions, including over the counter medications or eye drops that you may have been using. They are all important.
Your family history will be reviewed with you as well. Please tell us about any health problems that run in your family such as diabetes and high blood pressure. We should also be aware of any eye problems that your family members may have experienced such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration as they tend to run in families.
The Eye Examination
Your eye examination will begin with a measurement of your vision, or visual acuity, with your current eyeglasses or contact lenses. Chances are that if you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, some of the letters on the “Big E” eye chart will be blurry without them. You will be asked to read a chart projected across the examination room that consists of numbers and letters that get progressively smaller and more difficult to read as you move down the chart. This test, called “Snellin Acuity” or just “Visual Acuity” it is an important first step to understanding how well you see.
A refraction will be performed in order to determine the most accurate eyeglass or contact lens prescription necessary to fully correct your vision. This entails having you sit behind an instrument called a Phoroptor, so that the doctor can present a number of lens combinations to determine which corrects your vision most precisely. For those patients who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, you have probably experienced the “which is better” test called refraction. If you require vision correction the eye doctor will provide you with a copy of your prescription so that you can take it to our Optical Department where our Opticians can help you select a good fitting and fashionable frame and the most appropriate type of lenses for your work, hobbies or daily activities.
Next, the movement of your eyes, or “Ocular Motility” will be evaluated in order to understand how well the eye muscles function together and how effectively they move your eyes into the different positions of gaze.
By shining a fairly bright light in your eyes, the reaction of your pupils to the light will be evaluated. By shinning the light into your eyes in different directions, the doctors can learn a great deal about how well your Optic Nerve is functioning.
You will then be asked to sit comfortably behind a specialized instrument called a Slit Lamp Biomicroscope. This instrument provides the eye doctor with both high magnification and special illumination. Using this instrument it is possible for your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist to examine the condition of your eyelids, eye lashes, eyelid margins and tear film. The Slit Lamp will also be used to carefully examine the sclera (or white of your eye) and the cornea (or clear dome shaped tissue in front of your pupil). By focusing the slit lamp through the pupil (or dark center of the iris-the colored part of the eye) your doctor will be able to examine the health of the crystalline lens, which is where cataracts form.
In order to check for one of the signs of Glaucoma, eye drops will be placed in your eyes so that the pressure, called Intraocular Pressure (IOP) can be measured while you are behind the Slit Lamp, or with a Tono Pen, which is a hand held instrument. This is an important diagnostic test for Glaucoma. Once your eye doctor has completed the examination of the “front of the eye”, it will be time to begin the examination of the health of the “back of the eye”. At this time, additional eye drops may be placed in your eyes in order to dilate or widen your pupils. After the dilation drops are placed in your eyes, it will usually take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes for the eye drops to fully work and dilate your pupil.
Please be patient. You will be asked to relax in waiting room while the eye drops work, or if you prefer you may take a walk and browse through our optical shop while you wait. The thorough examination of the health of the retina and optic nerve through a dilated pupil is not uncomfortable, however the fully widened pupil may make you somewhat sensitive to light and may also blur your vision, especially at near, for a few hours after your eye examination. If you have not had a dilated exam in the past, it is a good idea to have a driver on your exam day. It is important to bring a good pair of sunglasses with you in order to lessen your light sensitivity.
If you, a family member or friend would like to schedule an eye examination, please call Larson Eye Center in Hinsdale at (630) 325-5200 or in Downers Grove at (630) 737-1001.
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