Seniors over the age of 65 who enroll for Medicare are supposed to receive visual acuity screening (using the familiar Snellen “E” chart) as part of a preventive health check. The trouble with this screening tool is that a recent study says that visual acuity screening is hardly better than no screening at all when it comes to identifying eye problems. Instead, researchers suggest that it be replaced with a “dilated eye exam,” which they say would be more cost-effective. A dilated eye exam involves placing drops in the eyes that dilate (widen) the pupils so that the eye professional can get a better look at the eye’s inner structures. This type of eye exam is valuable at any age. Vision consists of much more than just 20/20 eyesight, which the Snellen chart tests. A dilated eye exam is useful in identifying optic nerve damage linked with glaucoma and retinal damage associated with diabetic retinopathy.
Apr 06, 2012