What Happens During an Eye Test? What Is All That Equipment?

Published: 05th January 2009
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Eye exams are a common part of a regular doctor visit, though your eye exam may be more involved when you visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist. While the particulars of the exam visit will vary depending on your medical history and your family's medical history, these are a few things to expect to see or experience during an eye examination.


During an eye exam, your doctor will examine your eyes using an instrument called an ophthalmoscope. If you have ever had an eye exam before, you have probably seen an ophthalmoscope but have never known what it was called. In the most lay description of this object, an ophthalmoscope consists of a silver handle with a flat, black piece attached that contains a small lens and dials.

The ophthalmoscope is used to check the internal structures of the eyes, such as the lens, the cornea, the retina, and the vitreous humor.


This is typically one of the first eye tests you'll do during a complete eye examination. Performed in a darkened room, the patient will wear a special pair of glasses with various lenses attached and will then be instructed to stare at a large point in the room. The ophthalmologist or optometrist will then examine the way the patient's eyes reflect light while the lenses are adjusted on the glasses.


One of the most basic tests during an eye exam, the visual acuity test involves the patient identifying letters or other types of symbols on a chart such as the Snellen eye chart (the one with the big letter "E" as the first line).


The tonometry test is used to measure the pressure inside a patient's eyes, an important concern for the early detection of glaucoma. This is the part of the eye exam where your eye gets a puff of air blown at it. Though it does sound unpleasant, rest assured that the procedure is completely painless. Another common glaucoma test (which is also painless) involves the use of numbing eye drops prior to an examination of the front of the eye.

Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other vision professionals interested in optical equipment can purchase top-of-the-line vision testers, including equipment for testingvisual acuity through Stereo Optical Company.

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