Annual eye examinations are essential in protecting your vision and health. You need eye exams even if you believe your eyes are healthy, because some eye diseases don’t cause symptoms. These include serious conditions, such as glaucoma, that cause blindness.The type of exam you have depends on the reason for your visit – either a Routine eye exam or a Medical eye exam.
If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, you have an increased risk of eye disease and vision loss. You need regular exams to prevent or diagnose problems before they become serious. Eye exams can also help doctors diagnose health problems such as headaches.
MEDICAL VS. VISION EXAM
What is the difference between a Medical Eye Exam and a Vision Exam
Insurance coverage for eye exams varies. Some plans only cover routine, well eye exams. Other plans will not pay for your exam unless you have a medical eye condition or disease. Some plans require a referral from your primary care physician. Be sure to check your policy(s) to determine your coverage prior to your appointment.
For insurance purposes, eye examinations are divided into two categories:
These are routine or “Well Vision” exams for people who have no eye disease or symptoms of disease. Your eyes will be examined for any needed correction (glasses or contact lenses) or any potential indicators of eye disease. If your doctor finds anything abnormal during your vision exam, further testing of a medical nature may be needed at another visit. In that case, your medical insurance would be billed. Routine vision eye exams do not qualify for prescribing medications. Yearly diabetic eye exams will not be billed to insurance under vision coverage.
This is a medically necessary comprehensive examination for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the eye performed by a physician. This exam evaluates the reasons for the symptoms and assesses any treatment needed. Some conditions evaluated with medical eye exams include cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and many other potentially sight-threatening diseases.
Most patients will have a refraction done during either type of exam. A refraction is a diagnostic test used to determine your best corrected vision. For some medical conditions a refraction is needed even when eyeglasses are not prescribed. The majority of insurance companies do not cover this procedure. If your insurance does not cover your refraction, you will be asked to pay the fee of $25.
What Happens at An Eye Exam
At an eye exam, your doctor checks your eye health and looks for signs of eye disease. This usually takes less than an hour and does not hurt.
First, your doctor asks basic questions about your medical and eye health history and examines your eyes and the surrounding tissue. Next, you have tests to measure how acute (sharp) your vision is and check abilities such as peripheral (side) vision.
Tests done at a general eye exam include:
Pupil inspection: Your doctor checks the size and shape of your pupils and how they react to light and objects at various distances.
Eye muscle health and mobility: The doctor checks your ability to move your eyes and track a moving object, such as a pen.
Visual field: You cover one eye at a time. Looking straight ahead with the other eye, you identify objects in your peripheral vision, such as the number of fingers the doctor holds up.
Visual acuity: The doctor uses a chart with letters to test how well you see detail at a distance. You cover one eye and read the rows out loud, starting from the top line with the largest letters. The smallest row you can read correctly tells your doctor the visual acuity in that eye.
Refraction: You look through an eyepiece that holds interchangeable lenses and focus on a chart at a distance or up close. The doctor changes the lenses and asks you which one makes the chart clearer. This test helps determine your best vision in prescription glasses or contacts.
Color vision: You look at a series of images with symbols embedded in colored dots or patterns. Your ability to see different symbols tests for certain types of color blindness.
Ophthalmoscopy: Your doctor looks inside your eyes with lights and magnifying lenses. This test checks the health of your retina, the tissue at the back of the eye. Your doctor can also look for cataracts and monitor conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes. The doctor might give you eye drops that dilate (open) your pupils to get a better view.
Tonometry: This test measures fluid pressure inside your eye. A puff of air or light touch with a sterile instrument measures how easily your cornea is pushed inward. Elevated eye pressure can indicate glaucoma or another condition. This test feels strange but doesn’t hurt.
If you have questions during your eye exam, ask your doctor. At Dr. Brodak & Associates, our doctors are always happy to talk with you.
We will discuss treatment options with you at the time of your evaluation.
Dr. Brodak & Associates
9673 Lost Knife Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20877-2622