What happens during an eye exam?

A comprehensive eye exam can be an intimidating process. There are a seemingly endless amount of machines and tests, all of which can be frightening to an adult not to mention a child! An eye exam is a fairly simple process which is broken down into three groups of tests: entrance, vision, and ocular health. Each part involves specialized machines to examine and diagnose specific problems related to the eyes and visual system.

See Well Omaha eye chartEntrance tests are a series of simple tests to obtain baseline readings and to ensure that basic eye functions are intact. These tests commonly include: visual acuity, eye coordination and movement skills, color vision, depth perception, visual field testing, and blood pressure. Your optometrist will also take a detailed history of what brought you in for the eye exam, an overview of all medications, and any past or present illness for yourself and family.

Vision testing is, for many, the most worrisome part of the exam. The machine used for this part is the phoropter, which enables your optometrist to make every possible lens combination to achieve optimal vision. The phoropter also aids in assessing focusing ability, eye alignment, and muscle control. You will be presented with a series of lenses and be asked to determine which is clearer, which will help to fine-tune your prescription. Contrary to popular belief, there is no wrong answer so don’t stress this one!

The ocular health part of the exam involves multiple machines, each helping your optometrist to build a more complete picture of your eye and overall health. The most common machine used is called a slit-lamp, which is a big microscope. Using various lights and filters, your doctor is able to look at each individual ocular structure for any evidence disease. Many systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, melanoma, and auto-immune diseases will appear in the eyes, and your optometrist is trained to look for these. In many cases, pupil dilation is needed to further assess the back of the eye, which usually leaves you with blurred reading vision and light sensitivity lasting a few hours.

At the conclusion of the exam, your exam findings will be discussed and you and your optometrist will formulate a treatment plan. This may be as simple as a new pair of glasses, or perhaps an additional visit will be needed for more in-depth testing regarding a finding uncovered during the exam. If necessary, your optometrist will contact your medical doctor to coordinate additional testing or to inform them about the results of your exam. A follow-up examination will be set, which generally occurs yearly but may vary depending on your specific exam results.