What Your Eye Doctor Checks For During An Eye Exam

May 11, 2021

Eye doctors use a variety of tests and procedures to examine your eyes to not only check for vision problems but also for the indicators of eye diseases such as cataracts and glaucoma. A comprehensive eye exam is just like a physical examination conducted by your regular doctor but instead looks at the entire eye, the visual system, and prescriptions. Your eyes are one of the most complex organs in your body so making sure they are functioning properly will help prevent vision loss in the future and improve your overall well-being.

A comprehensive eye exam is different from a vision test. Vision tests only determine what prescription is needed to correct vision impairments whereas comprehensive eye exams look at the inside and outside of the eye to determine any eye-disease developments. According to the Canadian Association Of Optometry, It is recommended that adults aged 19-64 get a comprehensive eye exam done once every two years or more often as recommended by your Optometrist.

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What Your Eye Doctor Will Look At During Your Eye Exam

Comprehensive eye exams can take an hour or longer depending on the number of tests your doctor will perform to fully evaluate the health of your eyes and the quality of your vision. Here are some of the things your eye doctor will check for during an exam:

Checking your prescription will allow your optometrist to recommend lenses or contacts to help correct vision problems and help you see clearly. A piece of equipment called a phoropter displays various lenses for you to look through to help determine which lens will help you see clearly. Your doctor will ask you questions as you try different lens options until you arrive at your ideal prescription.

A slit lamp is a microscope that uses a bright light that shines on the eye to check for any abnormalities in the cornea, iris, and lens. This test helps your optometrist closely look at the outside of your eye and also the inside of your eye to check for other health problems such as hypertension and cancer. Your doctor will be able to accurately see the optic nerve and retina during this part of the exam.

Your depth-perception is what allows you to see objects three-dimensionally. Your doctor will perform a stereopsis test to effectively assess depth perception. During this test, you may be asked to wear glasses and focus on a series of test patterns while being asked questions about what appears close and far away to you.

Eye alignment and coordination ensure that your eyes focus properly and work together in a union. Eye alignment is also checked for aesthetic reasons to correct the uneven look of the eyes. Ocular motility testing is a common practice for optometrists to assess eye coordination by having their eyes follow a slow-moving object or a rapid-moving test to see how quickly your eyes can refocus. 

Color blindness can be checked by The Ishihara Colour Vision Test which uses a series of multi-colored patterns that each contain numbers. Individuals with normal color vision will be able to determine which numbers are associated with what pattern, whereas individuals with varying degrees of colorblindness will not.

Contact Us For Your Comprehensive Eye Exam

By visiting your optometrist regularly, you will not only be keeping a close eye on your ocular health, but you will also be taking preventative measures for your overall health and wellness. If you are overdue for a comprehensive eye exam, be sure to contact us today to set up an examination that checks for any signs of eye diseases or vision problems.

Contact one of our My Optometrist Calgary clinics at either 403-256-0606 (Health First Optometry), 403-291-0923 (Sunridge Vision Centre), or 403-443-2040 (Three Hills Optometry) and book your appointment today.


Q: Do comprehensive eye exams hurt?
No, they do not. The tests that are conducted are non-intrusive and will not cause any pain. If for some reason you experience any pain or discomfort during the exam, let your optometrist know right away.

Q: Is there a difference between a vision test and an eye exam?
Yes. A vision test can be done by a trained screener and does not require an optometrist or ophthalmologist to conduct the test. Vision tests only determine what prescription you may need for lenses and does not look at any other aspects of your eye health. A comprehensive eye exam can only be performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and evaluates both the internal and external parts of the eye to detect common eye diseases like glaucoma. 

Q: How often should I get an eye exam?
The Canadian Association Of Optometrists recommends that you visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam:

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