Your eyesight is one of your most precious senses, and protecting it should be a top priority. Your everyday activities, and even your safety, depend on maintaining good vision. It is estimated that one person becomes blind every 11 minutes due to injury, aging, or disease. Carolinas Center for Sight believes a proactive approach of early detection and treatment can prevent the occurrence of half of these tragedies. Many eye diseases develop slowly without symptoms, so yearly eye exams are the most crucial step to ensure that problems are caught early.
Perhaps you think that your eye doctor is only evaluating your eyes for glasses and contacts during your eye examination. Because your eyes are an indicator of your overall general health, we will also be looking for health issues as well as eye diseases. During an eye exam with the pupil dilated, the doctor is able to directly view the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye. Because these blood vessels are some of the only blood vessels directly visible in the body without invasive surgery, your eye doctor can often observe how other diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammatory diseases, are affecting your health. Sometimes an eye exam is even the first way that a disease is detected.
We feel that a yearly eye exam is good for most people. If you have some other eye disease such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy, then you may need to be examined more often.
Steps in your exam are customized to your vision and medical needs so they may not be in this order.
There could also be other testing performed, like a visual field, TearLab testing, OCT, and angiography, for example, that can make your exam take longer if your doctor deems that extra testing is needed to make a diagnosis.
A refraction is a critical diagnostic test that the physician uses to evaluate your vision, and without it, we are not able to fully assess the health and function of your eyes. It helps the doctor determine whether your vision is reduced by a medical disease (such as cataracts, macular degeneration, etc) or if it can simply be improved with glasses. Just like your primary care doctor uses bloodwork to make decisions about your treatment plan, a refraction is necessary to fully assess the health and function of your eyes. Refractions are NOT optional.
Unfortunately, no. Refractions are NOT a covered service by Medicare nor most insurance plans, even though they are an essential part of a comprehensive eye exam. We feel that they should be covered but insurance companies have chosen not to include this important exam component.
The cost for your refraction is $60.
At Carolinas Center for Sight, our patients receive a medical comprehensive eye exam, which is defined as one that includes full dilation.
Dilation is when special drops are placed in your eyes to dilate (widen your pupils) so that the doctor can get a better view of the back of your eyes. We dilate all patients so that we can look for eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment, to name a few.
The eye is pretty amazing because through a dilated eye you can see blood vessels. This is the only place that blood vessels can be viewed without invasive surgery. Eye doctors are often the first to identify other general medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and MS, to name a few.
This varies from patient to patient and even condition to condition. Some might be ready for their exam with the doctor in 20 minutes while other may take 45 minutes to dilate. Each person is different.
There are basically 2 drops that are always used. One is the dilation drops that we talked about earlier. The other drop is for numbing your eyes in order to take a tonometry test for glaucoma. We do this test for glaucoma at every visit because glaucoma is an eye disease that usually does not have symptoms until damage is done to the eye.
Always bring all of the glasses that you are wearing (distance glasses, sunglasses, computer glasses, reading glasses….to name a few). Also, bring a list of medications that you take. You may also want to bring questions that you would like to ask the doctor.
We recommend that you plan on being here for about 2 hours. Because Carolinas Center for Sight performs medical-grade comprehensive eye exams, we do more testing that you might have gotten in the past at other places. We want to give you a thorough eye exam that checks for eye diseases in addition to giving you a prescription for glasses. Also, as mentioned before, some people require longer for dilation than others. All of this can lead to a 2-hour exam.