Our eyes are important not only to help us see the world around us, but they also give a great view into our general health.  The eyes are the only parts of the body that can be viewed without any incisions, which allows your optometrist to gain great insight.  If you have never had an eye exam before, here's what the process consists of at NOVA Optique + Eyecare in Ballston.


Before the optometrist sees the patient, the optometric technician will perform a few preliminary tests on the patient that take a few minutes:

  • Autorefractor: The autorefractor is a test that allows the doctor to get an estimated prescription.  The patient looks at a picture that goes in and out of focus and a very rough estimate of the prescription is determined.
  • Non-Contact Tonometer: The NCT measures the intraocular pressure of the eyes with a gentle puff of air.  As the name suggests, this will not touch the eyes.
  • Optos: The Optos is used to take digital photos of the retina.  These photos will give the doctor a more widefield view of the retina and be able to check for certain ocular diseases.  This also allows for documentation of any conditions of the eyes, so they can be compared annually for any changes.  Our optometrist believes that the Optos adds so much value to give you one of the best eye exams, so much so that it's included in all our annual exams.


Once the preliminary testing is completed, the patient sees the optometrist for their comprehensive exam.  The eye exam is broken down into two parts, the refractive part and the health evaluation portion.  During the refractive part of the exam, the optometrist will determine the correct prescription for the patient.  She will use the autorefractor findings as a starting point, and then fine-tune the prescription with a phoropter.  At NOVA Optique + Eyecare our optometrist uses a digital phoropter, which allows her to determine an accurate prescription at a safe distance.

During the ocular health evaluation portion of the exam patients are screened for ocular diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts, in addition to systemic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia.  The optometrist uses a biomicroscope to look inside the eyes.  If everything is normal during the comprehensive exam, the patient will be seen in a year.  If the patient is diagnosed with any ocular or systemic conditions he will return for a follow up or will be referred out to a specialist if necessary.


For those patients who choose to wear contact lenses or it is medically necessary for them to wear specialty contact lenses to see clearly, a contact lens evaluation will be indicated.  During the contact lens evaluation not only does the optometrist determine the precise prescription (since it is not the same as the glasses prescription), but she also checks the fit of the contact lenses on the eyes to make sure they fit properly and do not have a negative impact on the health of the patient's eyes.  In the state of Virginia contact lens prescriptions need to be updated every year.


The fun part comes after our optometrist has updated the glasses prescription, picking out your frames.  Our frame stylists are here to help through the process of choosing the best frames and lenses for you.  Not only is it important that you love the way you look in your new glasses, but our frame stylists will make sure you see well through them.  They will walk you through which lenses are best optimized for your individual lifestyle and prescription, making the process a lot easier for you.

Everyone should have an annual eye exam, even if they have no ocular or visual complaints.  Eyes are great indicators of overall health and in some cases may show signs of systemic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension before they can be detected in a physical.  Schedule your annual eye exam at our Ballston location in Arlington.