Ask an Eye M.D. Answer Archive

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Question:
My daughter, 18, just went to the DMV to obtain her driving permit and could not pass the eye exam with one eye. Her right eye read the chart perfectly, but her left could not even see the letters. She has never been aware of this before. Her last eye exam was about 10 years ago where she was found to have good vision in both eyes. Is this common? Could it be something other than just needing glasses for the one eye?

Answer:
In this situation, one eye is clearly normal and likely has perfect vision to the point where it allowed the normal eye to compensate for the weaker eye. Fortunately, if your daughter did indeed have a normal eye exam 10 years ago then the possibility of amblyopia is unlikely (this can be a permanent cause of vision loss if not corrected in early childhood but does not occur in teenagers). This could be a simple case where the eye with decreased vision has become more myopic (nearsighted) or hyperopic (farsighted) over time and she needs glasses correction to fix the problem. On the other hand, she may indeed have a pathological process in the eye that has decreased the vision. She needs an examination to look at all portions of the eye including testing for any condition that may cloud the lens or damage the cornea or retina. A complete eye exam with an ophthalmologist will get to the root cause of the problem.

Answered by: W. Barry Lee, MDDr. W. Barry Lee

Categories: Vision Correction, Eye Conditions

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Answered: Jul 25, 2013

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