Make no mistake – a sight test is not a proper eye exam, which only eye doctors (optometrists and ophthalmologists) are trained and licensed to perform.
What is an eye exam?
A comprehensive eye exam performed by an eye doctor looks at the entire eye and vision system and is an important part of preventative health care. Eye exams assess vision – how well you see – and the health of the eyes inside and out. Think of it as a physical for your eyes.
A thorough eye exam from an optometrist includes:
• assessment of eye health to diagnose a range of diseases
• analysis of how well eyes focus at all distances
• measuring of muscle alignment of the two eyes working as a team – called binocular vision
• consideration of the patient’s visual needs, at work and at play, to determine the ideal prescriptions for eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.
An eye exam could uncover anything from a minor deficiency of the tears to major eye diseases or disorders like glaucoma or retinal detachments. Eye exams can even detect signs of problems elsewhere in the body – serious conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and brain tumors.
What is a sight test?
A sight test is a limited test of vision performed by a non-doctor using automated equipment. The accuracy and effectiveness of the eyeglass prescription generated is limited – the operator is not trained or licensed to test the eyes or to diagnose, and the computer program cannot consider all the factors that an optometrist does when prescribing lenses.
Why does knowing the difference matter?
A comprehensive exam is essential in arriving at an accurate prescription that is customized to your visual needs. A sight test falls short of that. Most important, a sight test completely ignores your eye health, which could end up causing permanent vision loss.
Having a sight test without an eye health examination poses a serious risk. Don’t settle for anything less than the highest quality eye care for you and your family. Your eyes deserve an eye doctor!
How often should I have an eye examination?
The Canadian Association of Optometrists suggests ANNUAL eye health and vision examinations for all children, adults over forty, contact lens wearers, and for those individuals with medical conditions or family history that can affect your eye health. All other patients need be examined every two years.