The eye doctors at McChord Optometry strive to provide the best eye exam in the JBLM area. We always set aside a few moments at the start of your time with the doctor to discuss your individual vision concerns and hear of any troubling health issues or past medical eye problems. The optometrist on duty at McChord Optometry will also want to hear about any problems you have had with your distance vision or computer/reading vision.
We will try to learn about the specific visual demands you experience at work, when driving, etc. By learning more about your personal visual demands and challenges, we can discover how to best solve problems for you. Our optometrists will try to formulate a plan to allow you to see what you need to see at all distances. There have been many patient visits that resulted in discussions about a patient’s visual frustrations. Quite frequently such discussions point toward medical issues such as eye strain, dry eye or cataracts which your eye doctor will further investigate.
One other important goal for our routine annual eyeglass exams is to strive for optimized eye health for each patient. Long-term eye health is much easier to achieve if preventative care occurs life-long. It turns out that eye doctors are much better at helping you keep the sight you have than at restoring sight that has been lost.
We do routine testing at every eye exam that screens our patients for debilitating eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration. So if it’s just time for an exam, your current glasses seem blurry, or you can tell something else is not quite right with your eyes, come see us for an eyeglass exam.
In case you are wondering what testing is involved in a routine eye exam at McChord Optometry, we have described the key testing you can expect below:
- Visual Acuity - this is the scientific way to test how well you see. Everybody will have this test done at distance and some patients may also need their near visual acuity (VA) tested. Yes, 20/20 is considered ‘perfect vision’ but some fighter pilots (and cargo plane pilots) can see as well as 20/15, which is considered about 30% sharper than 20/20. Almost nobody can see 20/10, even with glasses or contacts. Most patients start their eye exam with a VA of less than 20/20.
- Cover Test – this is a test of ocular muscle balance that can detect subtly crossed or misaligned eyes. Binocular vision issues such as this can lead to significant issues such as double vision, headaches, amblyopia, blur when reading, or a lack of stereo vision. By covering one eye at a time and watching how your eye responds, your eye doctor can detect these problems early and help to resolve the issue.
- Versions – this is another test of your eye muscles. In this test your optometrist will move a target like a pen-tip in an “H” pattern and watch your eyes follow the target to help determine if all eye muscles are functioning normally.
- AutoRefractor - This device shows you an image of a far-off object to determine the refractive power of your eyes when they are relaxed. Your eye doctor will use the data from this test as a key data point in the process of refraction (see below).
- AutoKeratometry - It is key for your eye doctor to know if your cornea is perfectly round like a marble or rather warped like an egg. The information from this test will assist the optometrist in determining the astigmatism portion of your glasses (and contact lens) Rx.
- Air Puff Test - this is a key screening test for glaucoma. Optometrists need the data from this test to determine the pressure inside of your eye. That data is used in conjunction with other exam data to determine your risk for developing glaucoma. There are other ways to test this, such as Goldman Tonometry, which is a test done on some patients who cannot tolerate the air puff. This is they way we always used to check eye pressure, and involves touching the front of the eye with a sterile probe after the eye is numbed up with a special eye drop.
- Refraction - You know this one if you’ve ever had a full eye exam. Refraction is that old test where the eye doctor asks you, “Which is better, one or two?” The optometrist will show you a series of lens options as they hone in on your ideal lens power. Don’t worry if you can’t tell some of the lens options apart; letting the doctor know they look the same is useful too. During this test your input is crucial. The eye doctor will take your input and work with you to optimize your glasses prescription.
- Eye Health Exam - during this part of the eye exam, your optometrist will use a specialized microscope called a slit-lamp to examine nearly all of the tissues and structures of your eyes with a bit of light and magnification. Your eye doctor will examine your lids, lashes, conjunctiva, cornea, sclera, lens, vitreous humor, and retina of your eyes. Anything that is not within the expected limits will be addressed with the patient unless the finding is not relevant to eye health. If you need treatment, you will be informed.
- Dilation - We like to dilate our normal, healthy patients about every three years, and some patients (such as diabetics, those with uncontrolled AMD or high blood pressure, and those with glaucoma) really need dilation yearly. Dilation means putting special medicated drops into the eye to make the pupil open widely and stay open. With very large pupils, the optometrist can see your lens, vitreous, and retina better. You’ll end up with a more thorough eye health exam as a result, and it does not cost extra if it’s done at your annual eye exam. There are, however, some down sides to dilation as well. First of all, the drops sting, there are some extra bright lights, and it makes your exam a little longer - but none of these are typically a big deal. More significant are the side-effects which include blurry vision (near worse than distance) and light sensitivity. The combination of these side effects leads us to discourage driving a vehicle after dilation. Please bring a driver if at all possible. Going back to work after being dilated can also be quite challenging, especially if you work in the sun or on a computer.
- Summary and conclusion. We try to wrap up the exam with a recap of the relevant findings and our suggestions or prescribed medical treatments. If there are any key exam findings that effect your prescription or your eye health, the optometrist will bring the up. This is also the time of the exam for you to bring up any potential questions you may have. Chances are your eye doctor will mention how soon they need to see you back. Most patients just need an annual eye exam. Patients with medical eye issues that require follow up will be notified when they are come back. This concludes your time with the doctor.
- You will likely discuss things like the insurance billing or paying of an invoice at the front desk as you prepare to go see the opticians next door. If you want documentation of your visit and the diagnostic & procedure codes used, our front desk staff can help you with that. They will also talk to you about when you need to be seen again