What to Expect During a Comprehensive Eye Exam

Everyone is recommended to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years. If you currently wear glasses or contact lenses or have been diagnosed with an eye health problem such as cataracts or glaucoma, your eye doctor may recommend that you visit annually instead. These appointments should be kept even if you feel as though there is nothing wrong with your eyes or vision, as they are used to carefully track and monitor your eye health.

The exact tests that you will have during a comprehensive eye exam can vary between different eye doctors and practices, but here’s what you can usually expect to happen during a comprehensive eye exam.

Take details of your general and optical history

This consultation is one of the most important parts of any comprehensive eye exam since it involves giving your eye doctor invaluable information about your general and ocular health. Your eye doctor will want to know about your medical history, what your health is like now, and if you currently take any medications.

​​​​​​​This is crucial as there are many conditions and medications that can affect your vision or eye health. They will also ask if you are experiencing any issues or have any concerns. The information you share can help to shape the preventative eyecare measures that you’ll take to keep your eyes healthy in the future.

eye exam

Visual acuity

This is the part of an eye exam that most people are familiar with. Visual acuity testing involves assessing how well you can see at different distances and uses a chart called a Snellen Chart to do this. You’ll be sat down and asked to read letters and numbers off of this chart to determine your results, which will tell your eye doctor if you could benefit from prescription lenses.

Refraction testing

If your eye doctor establishes that you could use prescription lenses, refraction testing will be used to decide which prescription you need to correct your vision so that you can see as clearly as possible. There can be several elements to this, but in most cases either a handheld instrument called a retinoscope or a computerized alternative will be used to measure how light is refracted by your eyes.

Visual skills test

Most of us have a wide range of visual skills that we take for granted, such as our eyes working together to create a single, clear picture. During your comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will want to test how your eyes function individually and together, how well you can track a moving object or respond to visual stimuli, and other important visual skills.

Slit lamp exam

The slit lamp is an important exam that looks at the internal and external parts of the eye in detail. This is essential for assessing the structures responsible for your vision and your eye health and can tell your eye doctor if you are suffering from conditions such as conjunctivitis, cataracts, macular degeneration, or retinal detachment. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is the best way to preserve your long-term eye health and vision.


This test is used to detect the presence of glaucoma – the name given to an increase in intraocular pressure that causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss, so this test is crucial for anyone who may be at high risk of developing the condition or who has symptoms of high intraocular pressure.

Dilated Fundus Exam

Dilated fundus exam requires the pupils to be dilated so that your eye doctor can see through them to the structures that are found at the back of the eye, such as the retina. The eyes are dilated using special eye drops that are placed into the eyes up to 30 minutes before the exam. Conditions that can be diagnosed using a dilated fundus exam include glaucoma, macular degeneration, ocular tumors, and retinal tears.

Your eyes will be sensitive to light and your vision could remain blurry for up to 6 hours following dilation. For this reason, you should make sure that you have someone to drive you home following your appointment. You may also want to wear sunglasses during your journey back home.

Are you ready to book your comprehensive eye exam? Please get in touch with our experienced and friendly eye care specialists today at 718-565-2020.