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What to Expect During an Eye Exam

Optometrists perform a range of comprehensive tests in order to make sure that your eyes are working properly, they're healthy and that your current prescription for vision correction is still appropriate. Here's what you can expect during an eye exam.

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What Happens at an Eye Exam

​​​​​​​1. General check for eye and overall health

Chances are your optometrist or an optometric technician will start by asking you how you are doing health-wise. They may want to know if you've started any new medications since your last visit or if you've been having any health problems aside from your vision.

Next, you'll get asked what types (if any) of vision issues you are having. Are your eyes red? Are they dry frequently? Can you see clearly up close? Can you see well to drive at night? These questions will cue your optometrist as to what to look for as the eye exam progresses.

Also during this time your optometrist will use different handheld instruments (like an ophthalmoscope) to look into your eyes. Some of these machines have lights that allow an optometrist to see more clearly into your eye. Other pieces of equipment contain microscopes so that the optometrist can magnify parts of the eyeball, ensuring accurate diagnoses. 

2. Vision check

If you wear contact lenses or glasses, be sure to bring them along with you to your eye examination. Your doctor will check your vision without your corrective lenses, but should also see how you do wearing your current prescription.

If you wear glasses, this may be accomplished by looking through a machine instead of through your actual frames. During these tests, your doctor will be evaluating how well you see without and with your vision correction. The doctor will often have you read a letter chart, or read words as a way to make sure your vision is tested accurately.

3. Eye coordination and movements check

Your optometrist will also check and make sure that your eyes are working together properly and that your eye muscles are balanced. Sometimes even staring at screens can throw your eye muscles off-balance, so this is an important check. This coordination can be evaluated through different tests where you answer questions about things you see on a screen, board or chart.

All patients also have the option to complete a visual field test for an additional fee outside the regular exam fee. Using a special screening device, your doctor will be able to see how well you can see objects around, and to the sides, of the objects you are looking directly at. This is just another way to evaluate your eyesight and may help the optometrist identify any other issues that may affect your vision.  

4. Glaucoma test

Either before the beginning of the exam or after it's concluded, your eyes will be check for an eye disease called glaucoma. Glaucoma is a disease where the blood pressure in your eye is elevated. This test sends a strong puff of air into your eye in order to test this pressure. It doesn't hurt, and only takes a second, but it may take you by surprise!

5. Other assessments

If you have a specific eye issue, your optometrist may include other tests as part of your exam. For most eye examinations, your eyes do not have to be dilated, but certain conditions may require the doctor to dilate for a better look inside the eye.

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