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What to Expect During an Eye Exam

February 17, 2016

Heading off to a doctor’s appointment can be an anxiety-ridden event for many people.  Going to the eye doctor should not induce stress and nerves however, if you know what to expect.  Eye exams are fairly straightforward and usually involve minimal discomfort.  Let’s take a look at what you can expect from a typical eye exam.

A comprehensive eye exam can take about an hour or so depending upon the tests your optometrist or ophthalmologist wants to perform.  These may include:

  • Visual Acuity Exam – One of the initial tests your doctor will perform will be an examination of the sharpness of your vision.   These types of tests are usually performed using a projected eye chart to measure your distance visual acuity and a small, hand-held acuity chart to measure your near vision.
  • Screening for Color Blindness – In addition to detecting hereditary color vision deficiencies, color blind tests also can alert your eye doctor to possible eye health problems that may affect your color vision.
  • Retinoscopy – This test can give the doctor an approximation of what your prescription for your eye glasses will be.  Usually it involves looking at a chart and examining whether the letters/numbers look sharper in one lens or the other.
  • Refraction – This is the test that your eye doctor uses to determine your exact eyeglass prescription. During this test an instrument called an instrument called a phoropter in front of your eyes and shows you a series of lens choices. He or she will then ask you which of the two lenses in each choice looks clearer. Or the doctor may use an autorefractor or aberrometer to automatically determine your prescription.
  • Slit Lamp or Biomicroscope Exam – This allows your eye doctor to get a highly magnified view of the structures of your eye to thoroughly evaluate your eye health and detect any signs of infection or disease.
  • Glaucoma Test – There are a couple different ways your doctor could examine your eyes for glaucoma.  One is the well-known “puff of air” test and the other is the  exam using numbing eye drops and the applanation tonometer, which will measure the pressure of the eye.
  • Pupil Dilation – Your doctor may choose to dilate your pupil to get a better look at the structures of your eye.   Dilation will make your eyes sensitive to sunlight so you may want to bring sunglasses.