What to Expect During an Eye Exam

The first part of the eye exam will include documenting medical history. Here are some eye and vision tests that are likely to be encountered during a comprehensive eye exam:

Visual Acuity

Visual acuity tests measure the sharpness of vision and are usually performed using a projected eye chart to measure the distance visual acuity and a hand-held small acuity chart to measure the near vision (for reading).

Color Vision

A screening test that checks the color vision is often performed early in a comprehensive eye exam to rule out color blindness.

Eye Alignment

A test used to assess strabismus or a more subtle binocular vision problem that could cause eye strain or amblyopia (lazy eye).

Ocular Motility

Ocular motility testing is performed to determine how well eyes can follow a moving object and/or quickly move between and accurately fixate on two separate targets.


This is used to test perception of depth, which is the basis of visual information deriving from two eyes by individuals with normally developed binocular vision.


This test is used to estimate which lens powers will best correct distance vision. Based on the way the light reflects from the eye, the doctor is able to obtain an approximation of the eyeglass prescription. This test is useful for children and patients who are unable to accurately answer the doctor's questions.

Manual Refraction With A Phoropter

This is the test used to determine the exact eyeglass prescription.

Slit-Lamp Exam

A slit lamp is a microscope used to examine the structures of the eye under high magnification. With the help of a hand-held lens, the doctor may also use the slit lamp to examine structures located farther back in the eye, such as the retina and optic nerve.
The slit lamp exam can be used to detect a wide range of eye conditions and diseases, including cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers, and diabetic retinopathy, among others.

Intraocular Pressure

Testing for glaucoma typically begins with measuring the pressure inside the eyes. This can be done by applying a known amount of pressure to the front of the eye, measuring it’s resistance. This is referred to as intraocular pressure (IOP).
High eye pressure patients may be at risk for or have glaucoma. 

Retinal Examination

To obtain a better view of the eye's internal structures, the eye doctor instills dilating eye drops to enlarge the pupils which usually takes about 20-30 minutes to start working. When pupils are dilated, eyes will be sensitive to light and you may notice difficulty focusing on objects up close. These effects can last for several hours, depending on the strength of the drops used. As an alternative, Optomap Retinal Imaging provides up to a 200 degree view of the retina, better than dilation in most cases, and reduces the need to be dilated.

Visual Field

This test checks for the possible presence of blind spots in the peripheral vision. These blind spots can originate from eye diseases like glaucoma or may help identify specific areas of brain damage caused by a stroke or tumor.

How Long Will The Appointment Take?

A comprehensive eye exam can take 1 hour or longer, depending on the number and complexity of tests required to fully evaluate vision and the eyes’ health. If the eyes are dilated, at least a 90-minute appointment should be planned.

Can I Drive After My Eyes Are Dilated?

Many patients are able to drive themselves after having their eyes dilated, but it is important to remember that eyes will be sensitive to light and vision may be blurry and you should wear sunglasses after your exam.
For your safety, if you do not feel comfortable driving, arrange for someone to drive you home.

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