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The Eye Examination

What Happens in an Eye Examination?

As well as testing your sight, our optometrist will check the health of your eyes and look for signs of general health problems this usually takes about 20 - 30 minutes. Your eyesight is a precious sense, so it is very important that you have regular eye examinations, at least every 2 years, whether you feel you need spectacles or not.

The examination will normally include the following elements:

 History and symptoms

At the start of the eye examination, you will be asked why are you are having your eyes examined, whether it s a routine check-up or if you have you come for a specific reason. If you are having problems your practitioner will need to know what symptoms you have and how long you have had them.

You will also be asked about your general health, medication you are taking, whether you suffer from headaches, or any family history of eye problems. You will be asked about your previous spectacles or contact lenses. Additional information, which will help your practitioner to make an accurate assessment, includes your occupation, whether you play sports or have any hobbies.


Vision tests to determine your visual capabilities and measure your prescription.

  • Visual acuity - This is a measure of your vision with and without spectacles. An instrument called a focimeter also 'reads off' the prescription in existing spectacle lenses.
  • Retinoscopy - A skilled objective test where the optician workers out your prescription with a special light instrument.
  • Subjective refraction - Prescription assessment subjectively to determine whether you are longsighted, short-sighted, astigmatic, presbyopic, or have no optical error at all.

Eye movements and co-ordination

Eye movement tests to check how well your 12 eye muscles are really working. This is achevied by the following tests:-

  • Cover Test – Use of occluder to view movement of recovery of eyes
  • Maddox Rod – measurement of movement of eyes using a red or white streaked disc
  • Fixation Disparity – use of polarized filters to measure disparity of the two eyes
  • Motility Test – use of pen torch to check motility of eyes
  • Near point of Convergence – measurement of convergence.
  • Near Point of Accommodation- measurement of focusing power of eyes

Eye movements and co-ordination are checked to make sure that both eyes are working together, and that undue stress is not being placed on the eye muscles. Good muscle balance is particularly important for those who use computers or read for prolonged periods.

Examination of interior and exterior of eyes

Examination of the various parts of the eye can give an overall picture of the condition of your eyes and your general health.

  • Slit-lamp- examination of anterior segment of eye and surround structures
  • Ophthalmoscopy- examination of posterior part of eye
  • Tonometry – Eye pressure measurement for screening for the disease called glaucoma .
  • Visual fields- Checks your all round vision and can indicate neurological problems.
  • Colour Vision- Testing for colour defiency using ishihara plates.
  • Pupil Reflexes- This examines your pupil's reaction and may indicate neurological problems.
  • Stereoscopic Acuity - Used with children, this helps in the detection of a 'lazy' eye.

After the eye examination

The results of your examination will be fully explained to you by your practitioner and a record of any prescription or special instructions will be given to you to keep. If you need medical treatment for an eye condition you may be referred to your doctor or hospital. Extra tests are also needed for contact lens fitting and check-ups.

Finally, your optician will recommend when it will be advisable for you to return for your next appointment.

Remember that if you have a problem with your vision or your eyes before your next eye examination is due there is no need to wait – contact the practice and make an appointment for a check-up.