eye vision exam

What Happens During an Eye Vision Exam?

About 11 million Americans that are 12 and older need vision correction, so it’s essential to pay attention to your eye health in case you do, too.

The only way to do this is to get an eye vision exam. Wouldn’t you rather be able to see adequately without squinting? Do serious eye problems run in your family, and you find yourself worrying about facing the same issues? To many, getting an eye examination seems overwhelming, but knowing what to expect makes all the difference.

Read on to learn what to expect from your appointment and understand the vision exam process in depth.

Standard Tests During Eye Exams

Depending on whether or not you have known eye issues or if it’s your first eye exam ever, the tests you get might vary.

There are some basic tests that you can expect to get during each exam that will help the doctor better understand the quality of your vision and the health of your eyes. Those tests will be reviewed here.

Visual Acuity

This is the classic eye test that most people have had done before, maybe even in school.

You will read letters on a chart either from a distance or through lenses. The provider will ask you to cover one eye at a time to perform this test to gauge the vision of both eyes as they can be different.

Overall, your only job during this test is to read the letters as best as you can.

Refraction Assessment

Your doctor might use a computer or a light to measure the refraction, which will help them to determine your prescription.

You will likely look through lenses to view the eye chart or a line of text from here. The doctor will switch lenses back and forth and ask you which lens provides you with better vision.

This is to help figure out which prescription will give you the sharpest vision. It might be difficult to tell the difference and gauge which lens gives you a sharper image as you get closer to your prescription. So, the doctor might move back and forth between the two to help you accurately make a choice.

Visual Field

To check your peripheral vision (or side vision), this test will be performed.

The provider will hold up either their finger or an object and move it around from side to side, up and down, and closer and farther away from your face. Today, many offices have computer programs that handle this test instead of a person, so you might be following a photo on a screen instead.

With this test, you need to focus on moving your eyes only rather than moving your head to follow the moving objects.

This test will help your doctor to get a better picture of your entire range of vision.


Your provider will use special drops to dilate your pupils (make them get bigger). You will wait for about 15 minutes while your pupils fully dilate, and then your provider will shine a light in your eye.

During this vision test, when the light is shone on the eye, the doctor can see your cornea, retina, optic nerve, lens, and the surrounding blood vessels.

This test gives a much fuller picture of your eye and can help the doctor discern if there is anything wrong with the areas of your eye that aren’t typically visible.

Your doctor might also look at your eye while your pupils are dilated through a microscope.

With this test, your main job is to sit still while the doctor looks at your eye in depth. The only thing to know about this particular test is that your eyes will be sensitive to light until your pupils return to standard size in a short while.


This test will help detect any problems with pressure in your eye. It’s vital because increased pressure is one of the signs of glaucoma.

Here, you will sit and lean your chin and forehead against a device. You will get a few puffs of air blown into your eyes. It can be startling, but it won’t hurt.

Focus on keeping still and keeping your eyes open as best as you can.

Other Possible Tests

The most common tests have been thoroughly reviewed, but there are a variety of other tests that you can potentially get if you have eye-related health issues, fast progressing vision loss, or other issues.

When you schedule your appointment, you can always ask what tests to expect, and during the appointment, you can ask more specific questions if you need to feel more comfortable.

What Do My Results Mean?

Most of the time, your doctor will tell you your eye test results during the exam. If you need glasses or contacts, you will leave with a prescription that day, and you can even order them before you go as well.

Normal results typically mean:

  • You have 20/20 vision
  • Have no signs of glaucoma
  • Have no abnormalities
  • Have no signs of eye disease

Abnormal results typically mean:

  • You need contacts or glasses
  • You have astigmatism
  • Your eye is infected
  • There’s trauma to the eye
  • You have a serious eye condition

Above all, an eye exam is designed to provide you with the necessary information about the health of your eyes. It’s better to know about any severe or minor issues and get the treatment you need than to ignore symptoms or skip the visit altogether.

Schedule Your Eye Vision Exam Today

As you can see from reading this article, getting an eye examination will provide you with important information about the health of your eyes.

It walked you through five standard tests to expect during the eye vision exam process and how each works to help the doctor get a complete picture of your eye and determine any problems.

If you need a routine eye exam, an updated prescription, or think that you might be noticing issues with your eyes, contact us today to schedule an exam and begin receiving personalized and professional vision care!