The Eye Exam, Take 2: The How and The What

Earlier this month, we discussed the “Why” and “When” ( of having a comprehensive eye exam. Now, let’s take a look at how it’s done and what happens during your eye exam.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your Atlantic Eye ophthalmologist checks a number of aspects of your eye health. The exam will commonly include:

Medical history
Your doctor will ask you about your vision and your general health. They will ask about: your family’s medical history, what medications you take, and whether you wear corrective lenses.

Visual acuity
You will read an eye chart to determine how well you see at various distances to determine whether you have 20/20 vision or not. (find out more at If not, you’ll look through the different lenses of a device called a phoroptor to determine the best eyeglass or contact lens prescription for you.

Your pupils
Your doctor may check how your pupils respond to light by shining a bright beam of light into your eye to see how they contract and reveal any underlying problem.

Testing side vision
You can lose side (peripheral) vision without noticing. Loss of side vision may be a symptom of glaucoma.

Ocular motility
Your ophthalmologist looks to see if your eyes are aligned and evaluates their movement. They also check that your eye muscles are working properly.

The tonometer measures the pressure within your eye (intraocular eye pressure, or IOP). Elevated IOP is one sign of glaucoma. The test may involve a quick puff of air onto the eye or some gently applied pressure. Your ophthalmologist may use numbing eye drops for this test for your comfort.

Slit-lamp microscopy
Your ophthalmologist uses a slit-lamp microscope to light up the front part of the eye. This includes the eyelids, cornea, iris, and lens. This test checks for cataracts or any scars or scratches on your cornea.

Your retina and optic nerve
Your ophthalmologist will put dilating eye drops in your eye to dilate, or widen, your pupil and use a tool called an ophthalmoscope to see your retina and optic nerve. Your eyes might be sensitive to light for a few hours after dilation – bring sunglasses with you to protect your eyes on your way home.

When indicated, your ophthalmologist may suggest other tests to further examine your eye and to detect problems early. At Atlantic Eye, we pride ourselves on the thoroughness of our eye exams (see while ensuring your comfort. Take good care of your precious eyes– schedule your exam today.