Eye Exams

About Eye Examinations at Riverside Eye Center

Martin Whitaker, M.D. and the staff of Riverside Eye Center provide the full range and scope of comprehensive eye care services including general eye care and routine eye examinations for patients from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. Dr. Whitaker recommends that in order to maintain good eye health and vision, all patients should have routine eye examinations on a regular basis.

How Often Should I Have An Eye Examination?

There are many factors that can determine how often your eyes should be examined. Depending on your age, your overall health, your family history of eye diseases, problems or conditions and whether you have been diagnosed with or treated for any eye conditions or diseases in the past will determine how often Dr. Whitaker will suggest that you schedule your visits as well as what type of examination is necessary.

When scheduling a general eye examination at Riverside Eye Center, it will include the complete testing of your vision in order to be certain that are seeing as clearly as you should, as well as a comprehensive medical evaluation of the health of your eyes.

What Happens At An Eye Examination?

  • Your Health and Eye History: First, a thorough history will be taken from you regarding your current general health, any previous eye problems or conditions that you have experienced and a review of any problems that you might be experiencing with your vision or your eyes. This will be important information to provide to the technician or Dr. Whitaker during the screening process.  If you have any chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or hypertension, even if they are currently stable, it is important that you relay this information.Please be sure to tell the technician or Dr. Whitaker about any medications you are taking for these medical conditions, including over the counter medications or eye drops that you may have been using. They are all important considerations in your examination Next, your family history will be reviewed with you as well. Please tell us about any health problems that run in your family. In addition please tell us about any eye problems that your family members may have experienced such as glaucoma, cataracts or macular degeneration as they can tend to run in families.
  • The Eye Examination: Your eye examination will begin with a technician measuring your vision, or visual acuity-both with your current eyeglasses or contact lenses, and without any optical correction. Chances are that if you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, some of the letters on the “Big E” eye chart will be blurry without them. The technician will ask you to read a chart projected across the examination room that consists of numbers and letters that get progressively smaller and more difficult to read as you move down the chart. This test, called “Snellen Acuity” or just “Visual Acuity” it is an important first step to understanding how well you see.Next, the movement of your eyes, or “Ocular Motility” will be evaluated in order to understand how well the eye muscles function together and how effectively they move your eyes into the different positions of gaze.By shining a fairly bright light in your eyes, the reaction of your pupils to the light will be evaluated. By shinning the light into your eyes in different directions, we can learn a great deal about how well your optic nerve is functioning. In order to check for one of the risk factors of Glaucoma, 1-2 eye drops will be placed in your eyes so that the pressure in your eye, called Intraocular Pressure (IOP) can be measured while you are behind the Slit Lamp. Sometimes a hand-held instrument called a Tono Pen is used instead.  Either test is an important assessment for the risk of developing Glaucoma. One of the technicians will then check your refraction in order to determine the most accurate eyeglass or contact lens prescription necessary to fully correct your vision. This entails having you sit behind an instrument called a Phoroptor, so that the technician can present a number of lens combinations in order to see which corrects your vision most precisely. For those patients who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, you have probably experienced the “which is better” test called refraction.   If you require vision correction Dr. Whitaker will provide you with a copy of your prescription so that you can take it to be filled by an Optometrist or Optician of your choice. At this time, additional eye drops will be placed in your eyes in order to dilate or widen your pupils. Pupil dilation is important so that the Dr. Whitaker can examine the health of the structures in the back of your eye including the retina and its blood vessels and the optic nerve. After the dilation drops are placed in your eyes, it will usually take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes for the eye drops to fully work and dilate your pupil. You will then be asked to sit comfortably behind a specialized instrument called a Slit Lamp Biomicroscope. This instrument provides Dr. Whitaker with both high magnification and special illumination. Using this instrument it is possible for Dr. Whitaker to examine the condition of your eyelids, eye lashes, eyelid margins and tear film. The Slit Lamp will also be used to carefully examine the sclera, or white of your eye, and the cornea, the clear dome-shaped lens on the outside of your eye. By focusing the slit lamp through the pupil or dark center of the iris-the colored part of the eye, Dr. Whitaker will be able to examine the health of the crystalline lens, which is where cataracts form. Once Dr. Whitaker has completed the examination of the “front of the eye”, he will then examine the health of “back of the eye”. The slit lamp will be used with an additional lens to examine the retina, optic nerve, macula and blood vessels in the back of the eye. Another instrument called an indirect ophthalmoscope will be used to provide a “wide-angle” view of the retina and blood vessels. Please be patient. You will be asked to relax in one of our comfortable waiting areas while the eye drops work, or if you prefer you may take a walk while you wait. The thorough examination of the health of the retina and optic nerve through a dilated pupil is not uncomfortable. However, the fully widened pupil may make you somewhat sensitive to light and may also blur your vision, especially at near, for a few hours after your eye examination.  If you have not had a dilated exam in the past, it is a good idea to have a driver on your exam day.  It is important to bring a good pair of sunglasses with you in order to lessen your light sensitivity.

If you, a family member or friend, would like to schedule an eye examination, please call Riverside Eye Center in Norway, Maine at 207.743.0027 or Riverside Eye Center in Lewiston, Maine at 207-786-2500.

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