You know the Snellen chart; you read the big E, then the slightly smaller FP, then good old TOZ, so on and so forth until you know how good your vision is, or so the story goes! In reality, the Snellen chart is just a measure of visual acuity; a sight test, and not a hyper-accurate one at that! For charts, optometrists usually prefer the LogMAR chart in this day and age; much harder to represent because it’s not a well established cultural trope. Visual acuity is obviously important to measure, and you want to have 20/20 vision with or without corrective lenses, but is there more to vision care than sight tests?

By now, astute readers are thinking “Obviously, because if there wasn’t we wouldn’t need to pay optometrists”, and my dear rhetorical reader, you are so right. There are plenty of sight tests online, but they will almost all warn you if operating in good faith, that an online sight test is not enough. Some places even have machines that will test your visual acuity, but they alone cannot predict exactly the kind of vision wear you will need.

When looking through a machine, our eyes tend to over-focus, which can make machine sight tests alone inaccurate. Sight test, whether done online or through a machine, won’t account for your eye muscle coordination or alignment, nor will they account for problems with the lens, cornea or pupil. This means you may have problems impeding your sight that sight tests cannot account for.

Arguably even more important is that sight tests are not comprehensive eye exams; they have no way of detecting diseases and other health problems that don’t immediately affect your visual acuity. If your retina is detached, sight tests can’t tell you about it. Diabetes might be causing your blood vessels to weaken or swell unnecessarily. Sight tests also can’t tell you about potential ocular or brain tumours, which can be life-saving information. Glaucoma can be spotted before it starts to impair your vision, but if you simply think “I can see fine, so I must be fine”, and you don’t go to see an optometrist, the consequences can be severe.

When you visit an optometrist, they have the health history of your eyes in hand. They can analyze how your vision has changed over time, and can thus better judge whether or not a development is of particular concern. They can help you manage diseases that affect the eye, and give you advice on proper vision care. They can assess how well you see colour, the physical state of the eye, and even how your work and home environments are affecting your vision care needs. Because they can ask you questions that you can answer, optometrists can dig deeper and find more information than a simple sight test ever could.

All this to say, if you haven’t seen your optometrist this decade because you have 20/20 vision, you could be missing valuable information about your health. For eye care Winnipeg residents can trust, visit Eyes in the Village; we’ll give you a full assessment of your ocular health and help you have a bright, beautiful future.