What to Expect from an Eye Exam

What's the Difference Between Regular and Diabetic Eye Exams?

Eye exams are key to keeping your vision sharp. But if you have diabetes, you need to pay extra attention to your eye health. Diabetes can cause many serious eye conditions, and if left untreated, these diseases can permanently alter your sight. At Nationwide Vision, we're here to guide you through the differences between standard eye exams and those specially designed for our friends with diabetes.

What Happens in a Standard Eye Exam?

Whether you have diabetes or not, regular eye check-ups are a must. They help update your glasses or contact lens prescription and catch any eye health issues early.

At Nationwide Vision, we start by checking how well you can see with a chart full of letters that get smaller as you move down, called a Snellen Eye Chart. This is to test your vision at different distances.

Eye Exam - What to Expect 2

Next, our eye doctors use a cool gadget called a phoropter to fine-tune your prescription. It might look a bit strange, like a pair of giant goggles in front of your face. Doctors use it to flip different lenses in front of your eyes to determine which one gives you the clearest vision.

If you're getting a comprehensive eye exam, we'll put some drops in your eyes to make your pupils bigger. This lets us see inside your eyes better, even though it might make your vision blurry for a little while. Some folks don't love eye dilation because it feels a bit weird and affects your sight temporarily, but it's super important for spotting eye problems that don't have obvious symptoms right away, like glaucoma.

After your eyes are fully dilated, we use special tools to look at the inside and surface of your eyes, making sure everything is healthy. This includes checking your eye's internal structure with an ophthalmoscope and examining the eye's front part with a slit lamp.

Why Get Regular Eye Exams?

The main goal of standard eye exams is to keep your prescription up to date so you can see clearly. At Nationwide Vision, our eye doctors can do both the vision test and the health check-up associated with comprehensive eye exams, ensuring your eyes stay healthy for the long haul.

Diabetes Photo

Diabetic Eye Exams: What to Expect

If you have diabetes, eye exams become even more important. You should have a diabetic eye exam at least once a year because diabetes can affect your eyes in unique ways that cause extra problems. When you visit Nationwide Vision for a diabetic eye exam, here’s what you can expect:

Talking About Your Health History

Your doctor will ask about your diabetes and family health history to get a full picture. This helps us know what to look out for and how to best care for your eyes. If you have had treatment for major diabetic eye conditions in the past, make sure to let your doctor know so they can assess your progress and either continue or adjust your treatment.

Dilating Your Pupils

Just like in a regular exam, we'll dilate your pupils. This lets us see the back of your eye clearly to check for diabetes-related eye problems. We focus on the back of the eye more during diabetic eye exams because many diabetic eye conditions target this area.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

While not always required, our eye doctors may take detailed scans of your retina. These scans provide cross-sections of your retina, similar to a CT scan, that show us if there's any damage we need to know about.

Digital Photos of Your Retina

Unlike OCT, these involve snapping digital photos of your retina directly. This is another way to check the health of your eyes. You’ll be asked to position your eye next to a special camera, which will quickly snap a photo of your retina. You will experience an afterimage that will go away in a moment or two. The doctor will have you do this for both eyes.

Glaucoma Testing

We'll also check the pressure inside your eye. High pressure can be a sign of glaucoma, which is more common in people with diabetes. A special instrument will be placed against your eye to quickly check the pressure.

Seeing How Well You Can See

You'll read from a Snellen vision chart like in a standard exam, but this time, we're also looking for any vision changes caused by diabetes. If your doctor notes a significant change in vision acuity, it may be a sign of a more sinister diabetic eye condition that needs diagnosis and treatment.

Why Diabetic Eye Exams Matter

Diabetic eye exams focus on catching diabetes-related eye issues. Many diabetic eye conditions go completely undetected in their early stages, only to start showing symptoms once your vision has already been damaged. During a diabetic eye exam, we look for damage to the retina, macula, or blood vessels within the eye to diagnose and begin treating conditions before they have a chance to rob you of your sight. It's all about finding and treating problems early to keep your eyesight sharp, which is the main difference between a diabetic eye exam and a regular eye exam.

As a patient dealing with diabetes, you’ll likely need to get eye exams more often than the average patient (we recommend at least once a year, possibly more based on your condition). This is because these conditions can develop at any time and start causing damage to your vision. More frequent exams give your eye doctor a larger opportunity to find and treat the conditions to preserve your vision.

Choosing Nationwide Vision for Diabetic Eye Care

Nationwide Vision is your go-to for diabetic eye care. We use the latest tech to spot problems early and help manage your eye health. Whether you need a diabetic eye exam or just a regular check-up, we're here to help. Let's keep your eyes healthy together!

With 61 locations across the state of Arizona, we’re only ever a call or click away. Schedule your appointment today.

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