What happens during an eye examination (eye test)?

An eye examination with an optometrist (optician) is usually very straight forward. Your eye examination will probably last somewhere between 20 to 30 minutes.

Your initial eye examination

During your eye examination you can expect the optometrist to ask lots of questions about your general health, lifestyle, the quality of your vision and any glasses/contact lenses you wear.

There are three main parts to an eye examination:

  • Tests to check the outside of your eye including your eye movements
  • Tests to check if the inside of your eye is healthy
  • Tests to work out if you need new glasses or contact lenses.

The eye examination will include some or all of the following, and your optometrist should explain the tests as they go along:

  • Reading letters on a chart through various lenses, using a special frame or machine. If you have a learning disability or English is not your first language, there are other tests such as identifying pictures or matching letters and pictures that you can do
  • A look inside your eye using an ophthalmoscope. This will mean them coming very close to you and shining a bright light into your eye while they ask you to look in different directions. This test checks the health of the inside of your eye
  • A muscle control check to make sure your eye movements are working right
  • A pressure check, usually with the 'puff of air' test. This helps to detect glaucoma or problems with eye pressure.

After your eye examination

At the end of the test, the optometrist should explain anything that they may have found and:

  • tell you if you need different glasses or contact lenses because your prescription has changed, and how much it has changed
  • tell you if you need new glasses or lenses
  • tell you if they have found signs of an eye condition.

If you need new glasses or contact lenses, the optometrist will give you the prescription.

If your optometrist notices a problem, if your optometrist (optician) thinks there may be a problem with your eyes which needs more investigation or possibly treatment, they'll refer you to either a specialist optometrist or to the hospital eye clinic. For further information please see What happens if my optometrist (optician) notices a problem during my eye examination (eye test)?

Further information on eye examinations can be found on RNIB's Eye examinations webpages.

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