At the Southwest Eye Institute, we perform detailed examinations of the front and back of your eyes in El Paso at all of our locations. This is very important because there are many eye diseases that you may not know you have until the damage is very advanced. Please know our specialty is in the medical and surgical care of your eyes, so we do not sell eyeglasses or contact lenses.
A comprehensive medical eye exam allows your eye doctor to examine the front and back of your eyes and check the overall health of your eyes.
The Importance of Comprehensive Eye Exams
Medical eye checks are an important part of maintaining good eye health. You rely on your vision for everyday tasks such as reading, driving, and working. Eye disease, injuries, or other eye conditions can damage your eyes, leading to permanent vision loss. Regular eye exams can detect problems before they become more serious and can help prevent eye problems and vision problems in the future.
Medical eye exams are crucial for detecting conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. Eye exams can also identify more significant eye health issues, such as cancer or eye-related complications due to diabetes or neurological conditions. People who wear contacts and glasses should have medical eye exams in addition to vision screenings to check eye health as well as get the right prescription for glasses or contacts.
What Is a Comprehensive Medical Eye Exam?
A comprehensive medical eye exam is an opportunity for an ophthalmologist to evaluate the health of your eyes. Many eye diseases don’t cause obvious symptoms right away. A medical eye exam allows your doctor to check for early signs of eye conditions so you can address them before they become major vision problems.
During the exam, your doctor will use a variety of methods to look closely at all the parts of your eyes. One of the most common procedures is dilation. Your doctor will put special drops in your eye to enlarge your pupil. This non-invasive process allows the doctor to examine the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye using lights and magnification lenses.
In addition, your doctor will perform additional non-invasive tests, including:
- Testing eye movement
- Checking the alignment of the eyes
- Assessing eye pressure
- Examining the internal and external structures of the eye
- Testing peripheral vision with a visual field test
The exam is painless, though some people experience blurred vision for several hours after dilation. The blurriness goes away as your pupils return to their normal size.
Since we perform very detailed examinations of your vision and eye health, an initial eye exam with us could take two to three hours. A normal annual comprehensive eye examination lasts no more than 1 hour.
Is a Medical Eye Exam the Same as a Vision Exam?
A comprehensive medical eye exam is different than a vision exam. Vision exams are used primarily to check your vision and determine the right prescription for glasses or contacts. A vision exam typically does not include eye dilation or other tests to assess eye health.
At Southwest Eye Institute, we specialize in the medical and surgical care of your eyes. We will check your vision as part of a comprehensive eye exam, but we do not do vision exams alone. Our office does not sell eyeglasses or contact lenses, but we will refer you to the appropriate vendors if you need to purchase glasses or contacts.
When and Why Do I Need a Comprehensive Eye Exam?
How often you need a comprehensive medical eye examination will depend on your age and eye health history.
Adults under the age of 60 should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years. Exams to check eye health are important, even for people who do not wear glasses or contacts.
As you age, your risk for conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration increase. Adults over 60 should have annual medical eye exams to monitor eye health and treat problems early.
People with certain risk factors for eye diseases may need more frequent eye exams. If you have a family history of glaucoma or macular degeneration, or if you have certain medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or an autoimmune disease, talk to your eye doctor about how often you should get medical eye exams.
Children should get a comprehensive eye examination when referred by their pediatrician or another health specialist.
Benefits of a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Regular eye exams allow your eye doctor to monitor the health of your eyes over time. They will notice changes in your eyes and take note of early symptoms of eye disease such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment may prevent complications and damage to your vision.
In addition, medical eye exams are an opportunity for your doctor to assess your vision and tell you if you may benefit from vision correction such as glass, contacts, or vision correction surgery.
Will Insurance Cover a Comprehensive Medical Eye Exam?
Medical eye exams are typically covered under your health insurance plan. You do not need vision insurance for a medical eye exam. This exam is about the health of your eyes, so it’s covered like other health-related examinations. Treatment for eye conditions is also considered a treatment for health conditions. Check with your insurance plan about coverage for treatment of eye diseases or other eye health issues.
Vision insurance plans apply to vision exams only. Your vision insurance may cover an appointment to check your vision and pay for glasses or contacts. It will not cover a comprehensive eye exam to check your overall eye health.
You cannot use both vision insurance and health insurance for the same appointment. If you have questions about using insurance to pay for your care, visit our insurance information page or you can ask the staff at the front desk when you check in for your appointment.
FAQs about comprehensive eye care at Southwest Eye Institute
Here are some common questions we receive about eye exams:
What ages of patients do you accept?
We evaluate and treat patients as young as six years old to older than 100. Patients younger than six we examine only in emergencies.
Do you accept emergency patients?
Yes, Southwest Eye Institute accepts emergency patients. If you are having an eye emergency, contact us immediately. If you cannot reach our clinic or on-call doctor immediately, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
How long does an eye exam take?
Since we perform very detailed examinations of your vision and eye health, an initial eye exam with us could take 2-3 hours.
Do I need to be referred by a doctor?
No, you can Contact Us directly to request a comprehensive eye examination.