What To Expect During Your Eye Exam

Optometrists and ophthalmologists use a variety of tests to measure your eyesight and determine the health of your eye. Some of these tests are simple and include reading an eye chart, while others are complex and require the use of high-powered lenses and 3D imaging. Eye exams are painless and usually take an hour or less.

If you or a loved one is preparing for an eye exam, it helps to know what to expect. Here are the most common tests to expect during your comprehensive eye exam.


Probably everyone’s least favorite test, the “puff of air” test is used to measure pressure in the back of the eye. To do the test, a small puff of air is delivered to the back of the eye. If you have high eye pressure, you may be at a higher risk for glaucoma.

Visual Acuity Test

The visual acuity test measures how sharp your vision is. It’s typically performed using an eye chart. To measure your distance visual acuity, you will be asked to read an eye chart with your right eye, left eye and both eyes. To measure your near vision, you will be asked to read a small, handheld chart.

Color Blindness Test

To rule out color blindness, a simple color blindness test is performed. Typically, this involves looking at hidden numbers and identifying them. Color blindness tests are used to detect hereditary color vision deficiencies and eye problems that can affect color vision.

Eye Cover Test

The cover test is the easiest way to study how your eyes work together. It involves focusing on objects and covering one eye at a time. During these tests, the ophthalmologist observes how your eyes fixate on objects. This test is used to rule out a strabismus, or lazy eye.

Eye Movements Testing

Eye movements testing, or ocular motility testing, evaluates how well your eyes can follow a moving object. To perform this test, a light is shone into your eyes and you have to follow it. If your movements are not coordinated, it could make it harder to read or play sports.

Depth Perception Test

In this test, you will be asked to wear a pair of 3D glasses while you look at a booklet of pictures. Your job is to point out the images that look like they are jumping out at you. This lets the eye doctor know that you have normal depth perception.

Slit Lamp

A slit lamp is a microscope that helps the doctor see into the structures of your eye, including the eyelids, cornea, iris, lens and conjunctiva. This is the best way to see into the eye without having to dilate them.


If you need an eyeglass prescription, a retinoscopy will be done to measure your eyesight. This test is painless and involves focusing on the eye chart as the doctor flips back and forth through different lenses. Refraction is when the doctor asks which lens – lens A or B – helps you see better. The lenses will be fine-tuned until a final prescription is reached.

If any other tests are recommended by your doctor, they can be done during your visit. The whole appointment usually takes one hour. As long as your eyes aren’t dilated, you can drive home. Comprehensive eye exams are often covered by insurance and can detect eye problems early on. Don’t skip yours – make an appointment with your eye doctor today!