someone looking through an eye exam machine

What is a Refraction Test and Why is it Needed?

Most people are already familiar with a refraction test, which is given as part of a comprehensive eye health examination. The refraction test assists in determining how well your eyes are functioning and if there is a need for vision correction. The test helps your eye care professional determine what prescription lens is needed to help you achieve optimal vision.

Because the need for glasses is not the result of illness or injury, Medicare and many other insurance companies do not consider this test “medically necessary” and therefore don’t cover this part of the exam. Still, this test is important, because it not only helps determine how well your eyes are functioning, it can also help identify potential eye diseases or disorders.

This test has two parts. In the first part of the test, the technician will assess how light bends as it moves through your cornea and the lens of your eyes. They may do this simply by shining a light into your eyes and determining how much light is reflected by your retina, or they may use a computerized machine to measure your refractive score.

The second part of the test involves the patient sitting in a chair 20 feet away from a chart comprised of bold black letters that are larger at the top and get progressively smaller towards the bottom. The eye technician has the patient look through a device called a Phoroptor, tests one eye at a time, and changes the lenses back and forth, adjusting the power of the lenses as the patient attempts to read the chart.  

The technician typically asks the patient, “Which looks betterOne or two? Two or three?” to determine which lens is best for each eye.

Why is this test performed?

People who have 20/20 vision are able to easily read letters that are 3/8th of an inch tall from 20-feet away. Those who can’t will need a prescription lens to optimize their vision.

The refraction test is used to diagnose common vision conditions including:

Additionally, the refraction test can help diagnose more serious eye issues such as:

Who should get a refraction test?

Everyone should get a refraction test as part of their regular eye exams. Children should begin getting refraction tests no later than age three. Tyson Eye recommends that everyone should have a refraction test annually. Also, anytime you notice your vision changing, don’t hesitate to visit Tyson Eye for an exam.

Tyson Eye is regarded as one of the premier eye care centers in Southwest Florida. Our surgeons and doctors have helped thousands of Floridians enjoy better vision and have consistently introduced break-through technology to the area. If you are due for an eye exam, or are experiencing any problems with your vision, we’re here to help. We are committed to excellence by delivering modern technology with old fashioned concern. Call us at 239-542-2020 or request an appointment today!

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