There are many reasons we refract patients. Some are obvious. The patient wants new glasses or contact lenses. Others are not so obvious.
Doctors can detect, follow the progression or improvement of certain eye diseases by measuring best corrected vision. For example, the primary symptom of macular edema is decreased VA so patients who are being followed for macular edema should be refracted to determine what their best corrected VA is since this is a direct indicator of whether the disease is improving or worsening.
The Role of the Ophthalmic Technician in Patient Education
Patient Education is key. When your patient refuses a refraction yet clearly doesn't understand the purpose for the refraction, it's up to the technician to educate the patient. I encountered this with my patient, Mrs. Turner.
"Mrs. Turner, the reason we are doing this test is so the doctor can determine what your best vision is - not necessarily to prescribe new glasses. This is important so the doctor can determine if your cataracts are indeed the cause of your decreased vision." Once I explained this, Mrs. Turner was amenable to having a refraction performed and my doctor had all of the information he needed to make medical decisions which benefited Mrs. Turner.