How is vision loss diagnosed?

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Vision loss is most often diagnosed using an eye chart. In adults, vision loss is often identified directly. In children, the first clue to vision loss may be a headache or poor school performance.

Vision loss is diagnosed during an eye examination with an ophthalmologist (medical doctor) or an optometrist. At the eye examination, the doctor will dilate both eyes using drops. The drops dilate the pupil of the eye so your doctor can see inside the eye better. A dilated eye exam may not always be used, so be sure to ask your doctor for this type of examination. Other tests your doctor may do include testing to see how well you see an eye chart with the right eye and the left eye, adjusting prisms and lenses to find out your accurate prescription if you need contacts or glasses, and an eye test for glaucoma.

Symptoms of vision loss may include blurry vision, difficulty seeing up close or far away, seeing halos on lights, seeing floaters or spots in your field of vision, sensitivity to sunlight or bright light, an inability to see at nighttime or difficulty seeing at dark, wiggly lines in the field of vision, blacked spots in the central vision, watery eyes, crusty eyes, flashes of light, or loss of side (peripheral) vision).

If you have problems such as diabetes, a tumor or an eye disease such as glaucoma, a cataract, or macular degeneration, your doctor will need to see you more frequently than adults with normal vision who have no eye disease. Some types of vision loss are preventable with an early diagnosis and treatment. That’s why regular eye exams are important so your doctor can catch problems early when treatment works best.

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Visual Impairments

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.