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Understanding the importance of eye health is just as important as understanding the difference between vision screening and comprehensive eye exams. It is imperative to not confuse the two.

Eye exams are important regardless of age and physical health. During an eye exam, the eye doctor does more than just determine the prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses. The eye doctor will also check for common eye diseases and evaluate how the eyes work together. Regular eye exams are critical for detecting Glaucoma, Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Age- related Macular Degeneration.

What to expect in an eye exam:

A comprehensive eye examination usually includes the following steps:

Review of the patient’s medical history and any vision problems that he/she might be experiencing.

Tests for nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, color perception, lazy eye, crossed-eyes, eye coordination, depth perception and focusing ability.

The eye doctor measures the patient’s visual acuity. This helps determine the prescription of eyeglasses.

The patient’s eye pressure is also measured.

The eye doctor checks the eye’s health using several lights to assess the front and inside of each eye.

Finally, the eye doctor discusses the results of the eye exam.

What is vision screening?

A vision screening is a relatively short and general eye test that is intended to help identify any presence of vision problem or a potential vision problem. It usually includes a test that will determine a person’s ability to see clearly at distances using the Snellen chart. Vision screening may also test the eye’s reaction to light, muscle coordination, or by viewing images that could reveal color-blindness or other hidden issues.

Vision screening cannot really diagnose what is wrong with the eyes, but it can indicate the need to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist for a more comprehensive eye exam. Today’s vision screening methods cannot be relied upon to effectively identify an individual’s need for vision care. In some cases, vision screening may even serve as a barrier to an early diagnosis of vision problems.

Keep in mind that vision screening is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye care professional. An eye exam is still the most effective detection method in identifying common eye diseases and evaluating the eyes as an indicator of one’s overall health. Everyone deserves the best vision possible and vision screening is definitely not enough.