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What Happens at an Eye Exam?

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Professional middle aged male optometrist standing in his office with a clipboard and pen taking notes.

Eye exams cover a wide variety of different diagnostic tests and procedures depending on the particulars of a patient’s situation and current visual health. At Lemon Grove Optometry we offer comprehensive eye exams that test for visual and refractive problems which are available for both children and adults — as well, we perform more specialized exams aimed at those who are afflicted with diabetes or who want to be fit for contact lenses.

Book an appointment with us to ensure your eyes can stay healthy and free from visual issues. 

Before Your Appointment

Before your scheduled exam, you and your eye doctor will have a conversation about your general medical history and current level of health. Your doctor will also question you about what visual problems you are currently experiencing and about your family’s medical history. These background questions will help our staff be more equipped to properly examine you when your appointment day arrives.

Your doctor may also ask about any medications you are currently taking and any work-related or environmental conditions that may be affecting your vision.

What Tests Will be Performed During a Comprehensive Eye Exam?

While there are many different tests that can be administered during a comprehensive eye exam, the following are the most common.

Visual Acuity Testing

Visual acuity tests will evaluate how clearly each of your eyes can see. Reading charts are the most common test for this ability — you will be required to read letters on a chart at different distances, and sometimes through different lenses.

The results of this kind of test are written as a fraction. The top number denotes the standard distance at which testing is done (typically 20 feet) and the bottom number signifies the smallest letter size that you were able to read. Normal visual acuity is 20/20.

Preliminary Tests

These are tests that analyze specific aspects of your visual function and eye health. Preliminary tests can include evaluations of:

  • Depth perception
  • Color vision
  • Eye muscle movements
  • Peripheral vision
  • Your pupils’ response to light
Professional middle aged male optometrist looks like a slit lamp while examining the eyes of a blonde female patient.

Keratometry & Topography

These two tests involve measuring the surface of your eye, known as your cornea. The tests will begin by focusing a light on the cornea of your eye to measure its reflection — this measurement is important for determining the fit of contact lenses.

Refraction Assessment

Refractive issues describe common eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism — these conditions change the shape of your lens and cornea which causes light to refract improperly through your eye. During a refraction assessment, your eye doctor may use a device called a phoropter which can help provide a prescription for corrective lenses.

A phoropter is a device containing different lenses with varying magnification levels. During the assessment, your eye doctor will ask you to look through the device and choose which lenses make an image look clearest to you.

Eye Focusing, Eye Teaming, and Eye Movement Testing

In these tests, our eye doctors will be assessing the ability to produce a clear, singular image. Different tests will be used to assess accommodation, ocular motility, and binocular vision — while assessing these areas, your doctor will be paying attention to problems that may be keeping your eyes from effectively focusing or working in tandem.

Eye focusing tests will be geared towards how clearly you can focus on objects. Eye teaming tests evaluate how well your eyes are working in unison to form a singular image. Eye movement testing determines if you are able to move your eyes appropriately when receiving some sort of visual stimuli.

Eye Health Evaluation

Depending on your specific needs and concerns, there are many different diagnostic tools and tests that your eye doctor can use to evaluate the overall health of your eyes. For example, dilating eye drops can be used to help your eye doctor perform tests and observations concerning the back of your eye, allowing them to more effectively screen for eye diseases like glaucoma

Supplemental Testing

Once all other tests have been completed, your eye doctor may choose to perform some additional testing based on your results to confirm or clarify certain discrepancies and points of interest. Upon the total completion of your exam, your eye doctor will assess and evaluate the results to determine a diagnosis, prescription, and/or develop a treatment plan specialized to your needs. Together with your eye doctor, you will discuss the particulars of your situation and the current state of your visual health.

In some cases, you may be referred to a specialist if your condition cannot be treated through normal means — at this point in the exam, you can ask your eye doctor clarifying questions and get contact information for different specialists. 

Written by Dr. Paul Wesling

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