Eye Exams in Wilmington, NC
Comprehensive eye examinations are a cornerstone of ocular health. Seeing Dr. Gregory Johnson and Dr. Gail Kelley of Intracoastal Eye regularly will help you maintain the clear vision you need for everyday life and identify any problems that threaten the health of your eyes. During an eye exam, our doctors perform a series of tests to assess your vision and use special instruments to evaluate the structures of your eye for signs of disease.
Eye exams are non-invasive and never rushed. We will take all of the time necessary to talk with you about any problems or symptoms you are experiencing, and we will answer all of your questions about maintaining healthy eyes for life.
Why Eye Exams Are Important
Eye exams are important for a variety of reasons.
Checking your eyes regularly keeps your vision prescription up to date so you can enjoy the sharpest and most comfortable vision possible. Changes in your vision can develop very slowly and over time; it may be difficult to notice a visual decline on your own. By getting a baseline of your vision and monitoring it regularly, we can advise when any prescription changes are needed.
Another reason why eye exams are critical is that some eye diseases progress “silently,” or without noticeable symptoms. The only way to detect diseases like glaucoma in their early stages is through a comprehensive look at the internal structures of your eye. Even if your vision seems fine, it is important to undergo annual or biannual eye exams. Catching these diseases early offers the best chances of preventing them from stealing your vision.
Finally, sometimes eye exams can uncover other systemic health problems in their early stages. For example, by looking at the tiny blood vessels in the retina, our doctors may discover signs that suggest diabetes, hypertension or high blood pressure.
What To Expect During an Eye Exam
A routine comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Johnson or Dr. Kelley involves several steps.
Our doctors will take your complete medical history and ask you about any vision problems you are currently experiencing.
Our doctors will then perform tests to assess the function of all parts of your eyes.
These tests may include:
- A visual acuity test to check how clearly you see
- A refraction assessment to check any new or existing refractive errors or estimate your prescription for glasses or contact lenses
- A visual field test
- A color vision test
- A test to evaluate the muscles that control eye movement
Slit Lamp Examination
Using a microscope called a slit lamp, our doctors will examine the structures of your eyes, including the cornea, iris and lens, looking for any abnormalities or signs of damage. We will use other special instruments to look at the retina, optic nerve and other structures in the back of your eye. To help us clearly see the inside of your eye, we will temporarily dilate your pupils with special drops.
Another critical component of an eye exam is a glaucoma test, which measures the pressure inside your eyes. There are a few ways of testing intraocular pressure, including the “puff-of-air” test or using an instrument called an applanation tonometer.
We will go over the results of each test and explain what they mean for your vision. Sometimes we need to conduct follow-up tests to confirm or rule out a problem.
If you have questions about any of the tests included in an eye exam, we encourage you to ask a member of our team. At the time of your exam, we will also advise how frequently you should have subsequent exams.
Eye Exam FAQs
I am not experiencing any eye-related symptoms or changes to my vision. Can I skip my exam?
Our doctors do not recommend skipping regularly scheduled exams, even in the absence of symptoms or visual changes. Exams are the best defense against problems and disorders that do not cause warning signs or symptoms.
If you have a pre-existing medical issue, such as diabetes or blood pressure problems, you should be particularly careful about attending all scheduled exams, as these disorders put you at a higher risk of visual problems. When caught early, most eye diseases are manageable with the help of our team.
What is the difference between a vision screening and an eye exam?
A vision screening is a basic check for the presence of potential vision problems, but it does not actually diagnose the problem. Primary care providers or school nurses usually conduct vision screenings, and the equipment used is very limited.
Eye exams are much more comprehensive and in-depth. They are performed by optometrists or ophthalmologists and involve the use of advanced diagnostic equipment. Exams look for vision problems as well as potential problems affecting the overall health of the eyes. If an exam reveals a problem, the doctor can discuss options for treatment.
How long is a lens prescription valid?
It varies by state law, but prescriptions are usually valid for at least one to two years. Make sure you do not try to buy new glasses or contact lenses with an expired prescription. Keep your prescription up to date with regular eye examinations.
Is my contact lens prescription the same as my eyeglass prescription?
No. The two prescriptions are different because contacts sit directly on the surface of your eyes and glasses are positioned slightly further away from your eyes. The strength of your prescriptions reflects that difference.
Why do I need my pupils dilated during an eye exam?
Dilating your pupils allows our doctors to perform a more thorough exam. We use special eyedrops to increase the size of the opening in the center of your iris to let in more light. This enables us to evaluate the internal structures of your eye, including the retina, macula and optic nerve at the back of your eye.
It usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes for the dilating eyedrops to take effect.
Can I drive myself home after an eye exam?
It depends on your personal level of comfort behind the wheel and with dilation. Dilating your pupils can make your eyes sensitive to bright light for several hours. Some people also have blurry vision or experience glare. The sensitivity, blurriness and glare may impair one’s ability to drive, whereas other people feel completely fine and capable of driving home after an exam.
If it is your first time having your pupils dilated or you already know that dilation impairs your ability to drive safely, we recommend you take an Uber or Lyft ride or make arrangements with a loved one.
Is an eye exam painful?
No. Our doctors do their best to make exams comfortable and stress-free. It may feel slightly awkward when we direct bright light into your eyes to see your eye’s structures, but that part is over relatively quickly.
To schedule an eye exam with the doctors at Intracoastal Eye, please call or email us today.