Our eyes are a vital part of our daily lives, so it’s important to make sure they’re as healthy as possible by getting an eye exam. At a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will perform a series of tests that normally take between 30 minutes and an hour in order to evaluate your vision and eye health.
How often you need an eye exam is determined by your overall health, your medical history, and whatever your eyes specifically need. The tests performed during this exam help your optometrist determine what you need to correct your vision while allowing them to test for eye diseases that could cause further problems.
Call us or visit our website to book an appointment for your next comprehensive eye exam.
What Should I Expect Before My Eye Exam?
The first thing to expect is to be asked about your medical and optical history. You’ll be asked about any vision problems you may have, when they began to develop, and the severity of any eye-related symptoms you may have.
You’ll also be asked about your family’s history—such as if anyone in your immediate family needs glasses or has any serious diseases that could affect your eyes. For example, diabetes is a disease that often leads to issues with your vision.
This helps your optometrist get an idea of what to expect and customize a plan for testing your eyes based on your medical history.
What Tests Are Done at an Eye Exam?
You can expect a fair variety of tests at a standard eye exam. In many cases, your optometrist will perform a combination of the following.
This is a test you may have seen in shows or movies. Your optometrist will set up a small machine in front of you with two slots you’ll look through. They’ll then flip between a series of lens combinations in order to determine your exact prescription, asking, “one or two?” as they go back and forth between pairs of lenses.
This is another one you may have seen before. It involves simply sitting and looking at a chart on the wall. The chart will have a series of letters on it, with large bold letters that steadily get smaller the further down the page they are. This is used to determine how clear your vision is at a distance. Your optometrist will likely check both eyes first before testing each eye individually.
Eye Alignment Test
This is a simple test. Your optometrist will have you hold your head still and move an object back and forth in front of your eyes, watching you track it visually so they can determine whether your eyes are properly aligned or not.
Color Blindness Test
You may have seen some variation of this test somewhere on the internet. You’ll be shown a circle that’s full of smaller colored dots. In this swirl of colored dots, there will be a pattern in a different color (often a number or a letter).
Imagine this test is full of red dots, but in the middle of it, there is a large pattern in the shape of the number 6 done in blue dots. A healthy eye that doesn’t have any problems seeing the color blue will see the 6 clearly outlined, but if you have any issues seeing that specific color, you’ll only see a circle full of red dots.
If you already have a predetermined need for glasses, or if your physician believes you’ll need them, they’ll probably perform this test.
The technician performing this test will use a machine called a retinal scope to shine light directly into your eye. By doing this, they can see the light reflecting from your retina. They’ll then begin slowly adjusting and moving the source of the light and tracking how it reflects from your retina.
This helps find a refractive error—a common eye disorder that won’t let your eye focus on images around it, causing blurred vision.
Standard External Exam
This exam is simple. Your optometrist will simply check your eyes, looking at their exact coloring and checking for visible defects or problems. They’ll watch your pupils adjust to light and track objects so they can see how your eye naturally adjusts.
Slit Lamp Test
This test is performed using a high-powered microscope that lets your optometrist see inside your eye. It lights up and magnifies the front of your eye, allowing them to see your cornea, your retina, and the back of your eye, so they can check for any issues that may be causing your vision problems.
Glaucoma is a group of eye problems that can cause damage to your optic nerve. While checking for glaucoma, your optometrist will perform a series of non-invasive glaucoma tests. These tests involve checking the pressure of your eye, the thickness of your cornea, and the natural angle of the inside of your eye.
How Often Should I Have an Eye Exam?
We recommend the same frequency as the American Optometric Association (AOA). If you’re at a low or high risk of developing vision problems, the recommended frequency of eye exams for your needs may be different, but in general, you should follow the AOA guidelines below.
- Between 18-64 and low risk: every two years
- Between 18-64 and high risk: at least annually
- 65 or older: at least annually
Infants and young children should have their eyes checked when they’re between 6-12 months old, once more between the ages of 3 and 5, and then annually afterward.
It’s important to note that if your optometrist recommends getting your eyes checked more often, you should follow their suggestion. Your vision is an important part of your daily life, and we want to do everything we can to ensure your eyes are as healthy as possible.