When you visit Dr. Edward Fries and the team at Decatur Eye Center in Decatur, Texas, to update your current eyeglass or contact lens prescription, you’re choosing what’s called a wellness vision exam. If there are signs of eye disease present, Dr. Fries will schedule another, specialized appointment, called a medical eye exam to make a more detailed and thorough evaluation of your eyes including dilation of the eye. Contact the practice to book either a wellness or medical eye exam today.

Medical Eye Exam Q & A

by Edward H. Fries, MS, OD

What is a medical eye exam and how is it different from a wellness vision exam?

In most cases, when you visit Decatur Eye Center, it’s to check to see that nothing has changed with your eyesight, or at most, your current refractory prescription will be updated. This is typical of patients who are getting older and losing small amounts of visual acuity, a normal part of the aging process. This type of eye test is called a wellness exam. There’s no expectation that your eyes are anything but healthy.

However, a wellness exam has components beyond the eye refraction tests needed to issue a new prescription. Some simple screening tests measure other aspects of eye health and while there’s usually nothing wrong, the early stages of eye disease may be detected. This is when a medical eye exam proves its importance.

Medical eye exams diagnose and treat diseases of the eye. These include conditions, such as

  • Cataracts
  • Corneal disease
  • Dry eye
  • Infections
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration

If you have symptoms of these conditions, or if you have another medical condition that may affect eye health — diabetes for example — then you should request a medical eye exam.

What tests are involved with a medical eye exam?

The examination starts with a review of the eye or vision problems you’ve experienced, including your medical history and those of your family. This may suggest genetic connections that play a role in some eye conditions. A visual acuity test likely follows if you’ve requested the medical exam. This test is already done if the medical exam follows findings from a wellness test.

Several forms of glaucoma feature increased eye pressure as a symptom that leads to optic nerve damage, so your eye pressure is measured. Dr. Fries inspects the insides of your eyes after administering drops that dilate them.

Depending on the symptoms and vision issues involved, other tests may be performed. These can include:

  • Tests of muscle performance
  • Color vision testing
  • Retinal exams
  • Other measures of visual performance.

Is there recovery time associated with medical eye exams?

Yes. The drops used to dilate your eyes cause blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Bring sunglasses with you, or consider arranging a ride home from your appointment.