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Pittsburgh's Top Eye Doctors for Annual Eye Exams

Scheduling eye exams routinely plays a critical part of your overall health and wellness, and most of us postpone or ignore the eye exams until an actual problem develops. Most of the disorders of the eyes do not manifest any kind of symptom until the condition becomes moderate to severe, which is exactly why early detection through routine and comprehensive eye exams are so important.

At Everett & Hurite, our expert eye care specialists offer comprehensive eye exams in a warm and welcoming environment. Don’t wait to schedule an appointment with us to get your vision checked out. Use our simple online appointment request tool to find a good time to visit us. 

Routine Eye Exams

Frequently Asked Question

What happens during a routine eye exam?

When you come in for your eye exam at one of our offices, our ophthalmologists or optometrists always ask about your general health history and any specific eye concerns that you have. Following that, our specialists will perform a thorough eye exam, which is painless and swift. They check your vision through a visual acuity test in the exam room, where you will have to read letters out loud from the visual chart at a distance. You will also have your vision tested for near vision through a series of printed cards.

After that, you will receive eye drops from the doctor to numb your eyes. By doing so, the doctors will be able to test your eye pressure without discomfort. Other eye drops will dilate your pupils, allowing the doctors to see the inner portion of your eye. Depending on the information obtained about the condition of your eyes during the exam, you may receive additional testing or care recommendations to pursue. 

What happens during a comprehensive eye exam?

In addition to the visual acuity test, additional tests like the evaluations of side vision, movement of the eyes, and the ability to track a moving object will be performed in a comprehensive eye exam. A device known as the Phoropter helps determine the proper prescription if you need glasses or contact lenses. Another common eye test known as Tonometry, is used to measure the pressure in your eyes. Eye drops will be administered to numb your eyes, which will make this part of the exam more comfortable.

The magnification and illumination provided by the slit lamp will allow your doctor to see the front portion of your eyes and check for irregularities in your cornea, lens, iris or the eyelid. Your doctor will use dilating drops to widen your pupil and enabling access to see your retina and the nerve You might be sensitive to light right after this portion of the exam, but after a a few hours, your eyes will adjust and are no longer sensitive to light. 

What is refraction assessment and why is it important?

Refraction assessment is a test performed to measure the strength of your eyeglass lens prescription and it is performed using a device called a Phoropter. The phoropter is a large device that looks like a mask and is positioned in front of your face. The doctor will adjust the device to sit at your eye level during the testing process. During this procedure, our ophthalmologists and optometrists typically use the phoropter to check the refraction in your vision by testing under several different lens. You respond to each option to pick the best lens that gives you the sharpest and the most precise visuals. 

How is retinal examination accomplished?

A retinal examination is an extremely powerful diagnostic tool that can help with  early intervention and treatment of several severe eye disorders and detect abnormalities in blood vessels and the optic disk. Our ophthalmologists at Everett & Hurite can examine the rear portion of your eye by administering special eye drops to dilate your pupils a bit wider, allowing more light to enter your eyes. Other devices like the ophthalmoscope may be used to direct a light beam into your eye to illuminate the rear portion. Another option is to combine a condensing lens and bright light to examine the inner structures of your eyes, like the retina and the optic nerve. This process can be completed in both the sitting up or reclining position.

What are common eye diseases or conditions?

If your eye doctor at Everett & Hurite observes any signs of degenerative conditions or eye disease, additional testing may be required to investigate further. The doctor also charts the results of your exam, which allows them to easily track any changes over time. Common eye problems and diseases include the following:

  • Cataracts
  • Refractive errors
  • Retinal disorders
  • Optic nerve disorders
  • Macular degeneration
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Diabetic eye conditions

How often should I get a routine eye exam?

A variety of factors can contribute to eye health and need to be considered and monitored by your doctors during exams. These factors include but are not limited to age, pre-existing health conditions, genetics, and the use of certain medications. Depending on which factors you are or are not facing as a patient, you may need to visit an ophthalmologist more often than another patient would. This chart covers a basic recommended eye care and exam schedule for the average patient, based on patient age. We advise that you use this as a general guideline for making appointments, but that you always follow your doctor’s advice first when determining when to schedule your next regular exam.

What is the definition of an “At-Risk” Patient?

There are a number of reasons your doctor may classify you as an “at-risk patient” who requires more frequent eye testing and evaluations than the average patient.

Infants, toddlers and young children are often considered at risk of developing a visual impairment if they:

  • Are born prematurely or suffer from other premature birth-related symptoms, such as a low birth weight or low oxygen levels
  • Have a family history of certain eye conditions or genetic diseases
  • Could have been exposed to certain infections or diseases while in-womb
  • Were delivered through a difficult or assisted labor
  • Have or had crossed or turned eyes at or since their birth
  • Are suffering from a central nervous system issue
  • Have already been diagnosed with an oddly shaped eye, retinal damage, or other problems within the eye or with properly seeing objects

Adults, on the other hand, are more often considered to be at risk if they:

  • Suffer from diabetes or hypertension
  • Have a history of eye diseases
  • Work in visually demanding workplaces, as well as in workplaces that are potentially hazardous to our eyes
  • Take certain medications with side effects that affect the eye
  • Wear contact lenses or undergo eye surgery

Ultimately, you as a patient are likely to have personalized eye health needs that need attending to; if this is the case, these basic eye care guidelines may not be the right fit for you. If you are at all unsure about how often you should be seeing your ophthalmologist, we recommend scheduling an appointment to determine how frequently your eyes should be examined based on your family and medical history, as well as your individual needs as a patient.

How do I prepare for my routine eye exam?

You’ve made your appointment for your annual eye exam - now what? After you’ve saved the date in your phone or planner, we advise that all of our patients make a secondary note about preparing for their visit. We do this because we know from experience that patients who prepare for their eye exam are more likely to have a simple, straightforward visit, and a better experience at their ophthalmologist or optometrist office overall.

Preparing for an eye exam is a fairly easy process. Patients just need to remember to bring several key items and pieces of information for their - and their doctor’s - benefit:

  • Your vision and health insurance information: Insurance information is a must at any doctor’s appointment. It’s particularly important, however, to remember to bring your vision insurance information in addition to your health insurance information - depending on the type of exam you’re undergoing and the reason for your visit, your regular health insurance may not cover your visit.
  • Your current glasses or contacts (if applicable): Whether you wear these items full-time or only during certain activities, it’s important to bring any vision aids you wear to your appointment. Doing so will help eye doctors confirm whether or not the prescription in these aids is giving you the best vision possible. Your doctor may also want to confirm that your contacts, if you wear them, still properly fit. If they don’t, your doctor will want to carry out a new fitting to make sure your contacts are less likely to irritate or injure your eyes.
  • New information about your eyes and eyesight: If you’ve experienced any changes in your vision since your last appointment, you’ll need to bring these changes up to your doctor so they can look into the matter. While some changes may indicate an ordinary change in vision, others may be symptoms of more serious developing eye problems.
  • New information about your health: Think that your ophthalmologist/ optometrist only wants to hear about your eyes? Think again. In addition to examining your eye, your eye doctor is responsible for making sure your overall health isn’t affecting your vision. To help them do this, patients are encouraged to bring:
    1.  list of any medications you’re taking (not just prescription), as certain medications can affect our vision and eyes
    2. Updates on any new health issues that have developed, as well as any recent injuries, operations, or illnesses you’ve experienced lately
    3. Any new information you may have about your family’s history of eye problems, such as cases of glaucoma or cataracts in close relatives
  • Sunglasses and maybe a driving buddy: Eye dilation is a basic component of most eye exams. However, the eye dilation process makes our eyes much more sensitive to light, and often makes it much harder to see clearly. Because of this, it’s important that patients bring sunglasses to ensure they’ll be able to protect their eyes after an appointment. Patients who know they have particularly strong reactions to eye dilation are also advised to bring a friend or family who can drive them home after the procedure to their appointment.

There are several things all patients should bring with them to an eye exam. Up-to-date vision and medical insurance information, a method of payment, and proper identification are all must-have items. You should also remember to bring as much background information as possible to your exam, including:

  • A description of any symptoms or problems you may be experiencing with your vision.
  • Information about your family’s history of eye problems, if there is any information to report.
  • Notes about non-vision related health problems in the family, particularly concerning cases of heart disease or diabetes.
  • A list of medications you take or allergies you suffer from; this information is critical in giving your eye doctor an idea of what sorts of problems they need to look for or address during your exam.
  • Tinted glasses, which will protect your light-sensitive eyes after they’re dilated and will help you drive home safely after your eye exam.

What should I expect during an appointment?

If you’re visiting your eye doctor for an eye exam, you should be prepared to sit through several basic tests. The following are some examples of tests we perform during a routine eye exam:

  • We take basic vital signs, such as your blood pressure, to check for underlying health issues that could affect your vision.
  • You’ll be asked to read a line of letters from a Snellen eye chart (i.e. the chart of differently sized lines of letters or numbers you often see at vision centers).
  • You’ll likely be asked to do simple visual acuity tests that track your ability to focus on certain objects or look in specific directions.
  • Your pupil will be dilated, or widened, using special drops so that our team can carry out a more thorough examination of your eye.
  • All of these tests are designed to reveal signs of potential vision problems or diseases within your eyes. Some additional testing may be needed if our team sees something that needs to be examined further during a routine exam. In addition to these tests, you should also be prepared to talk about any changes in your medical history that have occurred since the last time you saw your eye doctor.

Can I use my medical insurance or will I need vision insurance for my visit?

The decision to bill medical insurance versus a vision plan depends on the exam and the problems. If you want glasses or contacts, that will always be through your vision plan. To learn more about which insurance you should plan on using at your visit, click here.

I just came in for an exam. When should I schedule my next eye appointment?

You should schedule your next routine eye exam for one year from your last appointment, unless stated otherwise. The average patient only needs to visit their eye doctor once a year. However, some patients will be asked to visit more frequently if their doctors believe they’d benefit from additional monitoring or treatment. Even if you just had a vision test recently, it is recommended to not skip the routine eye exams. Vision screenings that are offered outside of vision centers and practices are never a substitute for a fully comprehensive eye exam. That said, if you did receive a screening at a clinic, fair or other event or site, we encourage you to bring the results and notes from that screening to your next appointment with us - there may be something there that our doctors will want to look into further.

There are effective treatment options for many of the aforementioned conditions if caught in the early stages. If you are overdue for an eye exam, call any of our 10 offices conveniently located near you or use our simple online tool to book an appointment.