An eye exam is the way an optometrist or ophthalmologist tests your vision and eye health. Your eye care provider checks to see if you need glasses or contact lenses. The provider also tests the health of your eyes to make sure that you do not have any eye diseases.
Even if you do not wear glasses you should have an eye exam regularly. If you don’t have symptoms, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you have an eye exam:
Any child who fails a school vision screening test should also have a complete eye exam.
You may need to see your eye care provider more often if you have certain eye problems, diseases, or risk factors. For example:
You should also see your eye care provider if you have:
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, be sure to take them with you. Be prepared to answer questions about your vision and health history. Your eye care provider will want to know if you are having any vision problems. Your job has a big effect on your vision, so your provider will want to know if you do a lot of computer work or drive a lot, for example. The provider will also want to know if you have any general health problems and what medicines you are taking. Keep an updated list of all of your medicines, including eyedrops, for your provider. Make a list of questions you have for the provider and take the list with you to the exam.
Your eye care provider will ask you if you are having any problems with your eyes. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, your provider will ask when you wear them and how long you wear them. If you wear contact lenses, your provider will also ask what solutions you use to clean them. Next, the provider will check to see if you are near-sighted, far-sighted, have astigmatism, or need reading glasses.
Next your provider will check your eye health. The provider uses a special type of microscope called a slit lamp to carefully check the front parts of the eye. Problems like cataracts or infection can be seen with the slit lamp. The provider will measure the fluid pressure in your eyes to test for glaucoma.
Your eye care provider may use eyedrops that dilate your pupils. The eyedrops open up the pupils so that the provider can see your retina and optic nerve at the back of your eye. The provider checks for serious problems like retinal detachment, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Signs of health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure can also be seen in the eyes.
Finally, your eye care provider will prescribe glasses or contact lenses if you need them. If any eye health problems are found, your provider will prescribe medicine or more tests.
If the provider used eyedrops to dilate your pupils, your eyes may stay dilated for 4 to 6 hours. This may make your near vision a little blurry and you may be sensitive to light for a few hours. If your provider prescribed glasses for you, you can select frames and order your new glasses. If you do not need glasses for distance, but you do need glasses for reading, your provider may recommend nonprescription reading glasses. Ask what power or strength you should choose. If you are getting contact lenses, you may need to see your provider again to have them properly fitted to your eye.
If your provider finds signs of an eye disease, you can get treatment before the eye disease becomes a problem. This may prevent a permanent loss of vision.
Call right away if you have: