Measuring for Spectacles

If a patient has not been tested recently for spectacles, not only can the measurement of visual acuity be inaccurate, but the symptoms might be caused by the need for a correct pair of glasses. The measurement, which determines the type of spectacles needed, requires skill developed by practice and the use of the right equipment. The most obvious way to measure someone for a pair of glasses is to try the effect of different lenses and ask the patient whether the letters are seen better with one lens or another. This is known as subjective testing and, by itself, it is not a accurate method because some patients' observations as to the clarity of letters can be unreliable. Furthermore, a healthy young person might see quite clearly with a wide range of lenses simply by exercising the ciliary muscle (i.e., accommodation). Fortunately, the refractive error of the eye can be measured by an objective method and an answer can be reached without consulting the patient. The method entails observing the rate of movement of the shadow of the iris against the red reflex from the fundus of the eye after interposing different strengths of lenses (retinoscopy). In order to make an accurate measurement of the spectacle requirement, both objective and subjective refractions are performed and the results compared.

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