Going to the eye doctor can be a pretty undesirable experience, in many cases because you aren't sure exactly what each test does. However, each of these tests is very important in protecting the health of your eyes and catching any conditions before they spiral out of control. To help you figure out exactly what's going on when you have an eye exam, here are some of the most common tests and what they do:
The Glaucoma Test
First, you have the glaucoma test, which you are probably more familiar with as the test where air is blown into your eye. It may seem kind of silly, but it serves an extremely important purpose.
When that air hits your eye, your eye will push back with a certain amount of resistance. That resistance will be carefully measured by your eye doctor in order to determine whether you might have glaucoma. If your eye doesn't appear to react very much, then it likely has high internal pressure.
You can imagine it like lightly pushing into an inflated ball. If the ball has a normal amount of air, then there will be a certain amount of give. If the ball has too much air, then the shape of the ball won't really change.
This test is critical because glaucoma can be extremely difficult to detect for the victim. You might even have glaucoma and be suffering from rapidly deteriorating vision without even noticing it. By detecting glaucoma early, you can take some preventative measures to preserve your vision and limit the damage.
The Slit-Lamp Test
This test might be a bit uncomfortable, but it is very important. In a slit-lamp test, your doctor will take a look at each of your eyes by shining a bright light on them, one at a time.
This light actually penetrates through the front of your eye, allowing your doctor to get a clear picture of the back of your eye. A number of conditions affect the rear of the eye rather than the front, which means that they can be very difficult to detect on a cursory examination. For example, cataracts can be pretty hard to spot normally, but happen to become very apparent during a slit-lamp test.
Fortunately, the slit-lamp test is also very quick and won't cause any damage, even if you might be a bit shocked by the intensity of the light initially.