Eye Exam Refraction in Baltimore: What is It?

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eye Exam Refraction in Baltimore: What is It?

When you have a complete eye exam at Baltimore Washington Eye Center it will include refraction. What is refraction? This is a question we hear often from our patients. Often the explanation goes something like this “You know... that test they do when they ask you ‘better 1 or 2?” Not really much of a answer is it.

So, what really is refraction and why is it done during the course of a complete eye exam? Refraction is the series of tests done by the eye doctor and his or her staff that determines the power of the lenses needed to give you the best possible vision. The first step in this process is to get an objective measure of how your eyes focus light naturally. This measurement is done either manually with retinoscopy or by using an auto refractor. This test lets us know if your eye effectively focuses a distant image or if lenses are needed to bring the image into focus. Once we have this estimate of the lens power that helps your eye to focus light we put that information in an instrument called a phoroptor. The phoropter is like the largest pair of eyeglasses you’ve ever seen and contains an enormous number of lenses to help correct a wide range of vision problems. Since your eye doctor’s goal is to determine how to design glasses that will give you clear comfortable vision, your preferences are used to refine this baseline estimate of your prescription. By showing you two different lens powers and asking you to compare “which is better” the doctor can hone in on a prescription that helps the eye to focus as well as providing you with clarity and ease of wear.

However, determining a patient’s glasses prescription is not the only reason refraction may be done. As cataracts--cloudiness in the natural lens of the eye-develop they can affect the way the eye focuses light often changing the patient’s refraction. As cataracts mature they may significantly decrease a person’s best corrected vision. If refraction is done and the doctor determines that even with the most appropriate set of lenses the vision is still decreased he may recommend cataract surgery as the best way of improving vision. Sudden changes in a patient’s refraction may indicate a problem with systemic health such as undiagnosed diabetes. Even small amounts of refractive error which may not create significant blur can be uncovered during refraction and help to determine a prescription that can reduce eye strain at the computer or allow a child to read longer and with greater ease.

Refraction is a tool used by your doctor to give you the best possible vision as well as assess the status of your ocular health and is a vital part of a complete eye exam.

Baltimore Washington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area that staffed by a team of Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, Opticians, technical and administrative staff who provide eye examinations for adults and children, cataract surgery and intraocular lens implants (IOL), laser vision correction such as LASIK, diagnosis and treatment of cornea disease, care for diseases of the retina including diabetes and age related macular degeneration (AMD) and diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma as well as contact lenses, eyeglasses, eyewear  and optical services. Baltimore Washington Eye Center is conveniently located for patients from Arbutus, Carney, Catonsville, Clarksville, Columbia, Dundalk, Edgemere, Essex, Ellicott City, Ferndale, Glen Burnie, Kenwood, Laurel, Linthicum, Lutherville, Millersville, Odenton, Olney, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Towson, Parkville, Randallstown, Rivera Beach, Pasadena, Severna Park, South Gate and Woodlawn Maryland.

Guest Blogger: Shari E. Strier, O.D. with the Baltimore Washington Eye Center