Comprehensive Eye Exam vs. a Routine Eye Exam: What’s the Difference?

Comprehensive Eye Exam vs. a Routine Eye Exam: What’s the Difference?

Regular eye exams are the key to enjoying the best possible vision and preventing infections and serious eye diseases. Most of us know it’s important to have eye exams on a regular basis, but plenty of people are confused by what type of eye exam they need – a routine eye exam or a comprehensive eye exam. Here’s how these two types of exams differ.

Routine Eye Exam
When people refer to a routine eye exam, what they’re usually talking about is a vision screening. A vision screening is a quick exam that’s primarily used to rule out major vision issues and to uncover certain symptoms that can indicate you might have a serious issue that needs further evaluation. Vision screenings are often conducted at schools, workplaces or during health fairs to identify people with issues that need additional attention — for instance, a vision problem that might require corrective lenses. These routine vision exams are not intended to provide a diagnosis of what’s causing your symptoms, merely to identify symptoms that need further evaluation.

The primary evaluation used during a routine eye exam or vision screening is the visual acuity test. This is the test that most people think of when they think of having an eye exam. In the visual acuity test, the eye doctor will ask you to “read” an eye chart that has letters, numbers or other characters of varying sizes. This eye chart (called a Snellen chart) can help determine if you have difficulty seeing clearly at different distances, based on the size of the characters. During a vision screening, you’ll be asked to cover one eye while the other eye does the “work.” Then the second eye will be tested in the same way.

Comprehensive Eye Exam
Comprehensive eye exams use a series of advanced tests and evaluations to provide far more information about your vision and your eye health. A comprehensive exam begins with a review of your personal medical history, along with a review of any symptoms you may be having. Visual acuity tests will be performed, much like the vision screening except we may use a computer to perform part of the screening. If you wear corrective lenses, your prescription will be checked as well.

For many of the tests and evaluations, your pupils will need to be dilated using special eye drops. That’s because dilating your eyes enables the eye doctor to examine the structures inside your eyes. In our office, we also offer optical coherence tomography, a special technique that may avoid the need for dilating drops. In addition to evaluating the structures of your eyes, the eye doctor will look at your eyelids and evaluate your tear film to look for signs of dry eyes. Additional tests will be used to assess how well your eyes work together as a team, how well you see colors and perceive depth, and how well you see out of the corners of your eyes (your peripheral vision). The eye doctor also will use a special test to measure the pressure inside your eyes, checking for evidence of glaucoma. All these tests are painless and take just a few moments to perform.

At the end of the exam, the doctor will discuss your results and make any necessary recommendations for care or treatment, including prescribing lenses or updating an existing prescription when needed.

Powers Eye Center: State-of-the-Art Eye Care in Colorado Springs
So now that you know how important it is to have a comprehensive eye exam, the next thing you need to know is how often should you have your eyes examined. The answer to that varies based on your age, your personal and family medical history, your eye health history, your vision and other factors. Most people need to have their eyes examined every one to three years, but if you haven’t had your eye examined in awhile, now is the time to make an appointment so our eye doctor can obtain baseline information that can be used to look for eye diseases symptoms in future exams. And of course, if you’re experiencing any sort of vision problem or related symptoms like chronic headaches, a comprehensive eye exam is in order to determine the cause of the symptoms and to receive appropriate care so serious problems can be prevented. To schedule your eye exam at our Colorado Springs office, call Powers Eye Center at 719-598-5068 today.