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Eye Exams

Routine Eye Exams

An annual eye exam consists of two main parts – the refraction (“Which is better, one or two?”) to determine a glasses prescription, and the health check, which makes sure the front and the inside of the eye are healthy. The end goal of a routine eye exam is to determine any glasses or contact lens prescriptions that are needed and to confirm the eye is healthy. Usually, the health check includes a procedure called dilation – where the doctor uses eye drops to make the pupils big so that she can see inside the eye. Trying to see inside the eye without dilation is like looking at a room through a keyhole. The doctor can see straight back, but cannot see everything on the sides of the eyes. Without dilation, it is also very hard to accurately evaluate cataracts. Since there are no pain receptors in the retina, which is the camera film in the back of the eye, patients often do not know if there is a medical problem inside the eye until they are dilated and the doctor finds the problem, or until the problem progresses and starts to affect their eyes. 

Doctor Darnell, along with the American Optometric Association, recommend an annual eye exam for school-age children and adults. (She also recommends eye exams for babies and toddlers when they are 6 months old, 3 years old, and 5 years old, and any other time the parents have an eye concern.) Patients do not need to know their numbers or letters to get an accurate glasses prescription – they don’t even have to be able to speak!

Routine eye exams, those with the end goal of obtaining a glasses prescription or a contact lens prescription, or for an “annual physical” health check for the eyes, are billed either to vision plans (such as Vision Service Plan, or VSP) or they can be paid for by the patient directly.

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Medical Eye Exams

Medical eye exams, as their name implies, are exams to evaluate, diagnose, or treat a medical problem with the eyes, rather than having an end goal of obtaining a glasses or a contact lens prescription. (Though those can sometimes be obtained at the same visit.) Medical eye exams are typically billed to a patient’s medical insurance, rather than their vision plan. Patients without medical insurance can also pay for their medical eye exams directly.

The most commonly recognized medical eye exams are “red eye” exams, such as when a patient has pink eye or another eye infection, a foreign object stuck in the eye, or eye pain. Other medical problems that can be addressed in a medical eye exam include, but are not limited to: 

  • Diabetic eye exams
  • Cataract evaluations
  • Dry eyes
  • Glaucoma evaluations
  • Macular Degeneration exams
  • Plaquenil (or other high-risk medications to the eye) exams
  • Headaches that are caused by using the eyes, often when reading or using the computer
  • Flashes of light or floaters noticed in your vision

Depending on the condition and treatment, Doctor Darnell may recommend an annual medical eye exam, or a more frequent follow-up, such as every six months, or every month, or even the following week. 

If you would like to know if your exam will be billed to your Vision Plan or to your Medical Insurance, please call our office and let us know what you would like to be seen for. We will happily answer the question for you!

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Dr. Michelle Darnell and the staff of Lilac Family Eye Care specialize in the diagnosis and management of pink eye and other causes of red eyes.  Call our eye doctor in Liberty Lake, WA today at (509) 210-0303 for a eye exam. Our optometrist provides the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in Liberty Lake.

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