The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

An optometrist provides primary vision care for people of all ages - from performing eye exams to diagnosing eye disease. An optometrist completes three or more years of college or university followed by four years of optometry school.

Regular eye examinations are essential to diagnose eye conditions and assess your overall eye health. During an eye exam with an optometrist, he or she will measure your visual acuity. Visual acuity is how well you can see from a distance, and the test involves looking at an eye chart to identify letters that get smaller as you read down.

What to Expect During an Eye Exam

Other tests your eye care professional may perform during a regular eye examination include:

  • A visual field test to check your peripheral vision
  • Using a tonometer to screen for glaucoma
  • Pachymetry to measure cornea thickness
  • Having you following an object in different directions with your eyes to determine muscle control
  • A retinal exam of the back of your eye: if special eyedrops are used, you’ll experience temporary blurred vision and light sensitivity
  • A slit-lamp exam to look at the cornea, iris and lens


There are a number of eye health conditions that your optometrist may screen for, diagnose and treat. These eye conditions include:

  • Amblyopia
  • Cataracts
  • Computer vision
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Dry eye
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia and astigmatism

An optometrist is different than an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats eye diseases and performs eye surgery. An ophthalmologist has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training.


How Can Patients Take Control of Their Health?

  • See an optometrist if you experience vision changes or headaches.
  • Know your family’s eye health history.
  • Wear eye protection when playing sports, mowing the lawn or using heavy equipment.
  • Give your eyes a rest from the TV or computer. Try the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look 20 feet in front of you for 20 seconds.
  • If you smoke, quit. It increases your risk of developing certain eye conditions.


Talk to your optometrist if you want more information on regular eye exams.