What to Expect During a Routine Eye Exam

Image of doctor with eye equipment.

Routine eye exams are straightforward, quick and painless. Most doctors recommend screening your vision on an annual basis to ensure your vision prescription is up to date (or to determine you need one) and to make sure your eyes are healthy. Regular eye exams are the first line of defense against eye disorders, such as chronic dry eye, inflammation, glaucoma, age-related issues and cataracts.

During a regular visit, you can expect your optometrist to perform the following tests to determine your eye health:

Pre-Exam Tests. A technician will often perform a few basic tests before you see the doctor, including a color sensitivity test, peripheral vision test, a glaucoma (or “air puff” test) and a cover test to determine how well your eyes work together. He or she may also use an autorefractor, which automatically measures your vision prescription, to gain a ballpark understanding of your vision needs.

Pupillary Reactions. Using a light, the doctor checks your pupils’ responsiveness. Your pupils’ response to light is a natural function of the eye and is critical to your vision. While using the light, the doctor will also look at the surface of your eye for signs of dry eye, corneal scratches and bacterial debris.

Slit Lamp Test. During a slit light test (also called a biomicroscope), the doctor will shine a vertical bar of light into your eye to magnify your eye’s surface and inspect for abnormalities on the cornea, iris and lens. This test usually takes a few minutes, and you may be asked to blink or stare at your doctor’s ear so he can look closely at your eye’s surface.

Visual Acuity and Refraction. The most well-known part of the eye exam is the visual acuity test. Your doctor will ask you to read an eye chart filled with numbers and letters with one or both eyes. Your ability to clearly read and identify the numbers and letters helps the doctor further determine your vision prescription needs. To hone in on your exact prescription, your doctor will place a large lens refractor in front of you and ask you a series of questions about which lenses make your vision better or worse.

Pupil Dilation. At the end of your exam, the doctor may ask you if you would like to have your eyes dilated. By dilating your eyes, the doctor can examine your retina and optic nerve more fully. To perform this part of the exam, the doctor will put a few drops in your eyes that cause your pupils to enlarge, letting more light in and giving him or her a better view into your eye. Your eyes may be sensitive to light for up to an hour after the test, so it’s best to avoid being outside in direct sunlight afterward.

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Testimonials

Reviews From Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit! I see an optometrist every year and I received care at her office that I've never received anywhere! I had my eyes dilated for the 1st time to make sure everything was ok. It was offered to me & covered by my insurance. I realize the importance of my vision and was very pleased with the care I received!"
    Andrea Walker
  • "First of all, the atmosphere was welcoming....(very important to me). The receptionist worked with us and was very patient due to the fact we haven't seen an optometrist in a while....and Dr. Norwood took extra time out to explain things that was unclear to me (for myself and my child). I expect the type of care she provided.
    My last experience (elsewhere) was rough, which is why it took me so long to see another eye Dr.
    Dr. Norwood is a great example for all optometrists and her staff as well. Thanks again..."
    Erika T Collins
  • "I love this Doctor. I thank God that i brought my baby to her. Because she saw some things that were going on behind her eye's. She told me to take her to the er asap. I did my baby almost die on me. But i thank God for sending me to her. I feel like she was my baby Angel. Thank u so much. Doctor Norwood."
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