A retinal exam is an extremely useful procedure which can be used to diagnose a variety of ailments affecting the eye. If you visit an optometrist, there is a good chance that you will be asked to undergo a routine retinal exam. However, it is also a good idea to get a retinal exam if you haven't been to an eye doctor for a prolonged period of time. So without further ado, here is what a retinal exam consists of and how it can help you:
Before the Exam
There are several parts to a basic retinal exam, and each is meant to test a specific function of the eye. Before the exam, you should tell the doctor about any oddities or problems you have been experiencing regarding your vision. These can be as seemingly trivial as a small object in the corner of your eye that appears consistently or as serious as rapidly deteriorating vision in one or both eyes.
The most common part of a retinal exam is the basic clarity test, also known as a visual acuity test. If you have had a retinal exam before, then this is the part where you are asked to read increasingly small text. This can help determine whether or not you need glasses or a new prescription.
You might also be tested on eye pressure, which generally consists of a blast of air to the eyeball. This can be disorienting, but is not harmful at all. It actually allows the optometrist to gauge the pressure of the fluid inside the eye, which can be a good indicator of whether or not you are at risk of glaucoma.
Your optometrist might also add a substance to the surface of your eye in a procedure known as an ophthalmoscopy. A couple drops of this substance will dilate your pupil and allow the doctor to see the main structures in the rear of the eyeball. Under normal conditions, the pupil is too large to observe any of the rear elements.
Lastly, your optometrist might ask you to use a device where you stare at a bright light. This will usually occur in a brief burst which can blind you for a few moments, but it does not cause long-term damage. A refraction assessment in critical to determine the right prescription for your glasses or contacts.
If it's time for you to have a retinal exam, contact an eye care clinic like Forest Hills Retina Center.