Eye Exams

A comprehensive, routine, yearly or complete eye exam performed by a skilled optometrist will check the health of your eyes. It will help your doctor decide if further testing in any areas is necessary. The most common vision problems are refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.

Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing direction on the retina. Blurred vision, double vision, glare, headaches, and eye strain are all common symptoms of refractive errors. Glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery can correct refractive error.

Millions of people have problems with their vision every year. As we get older the frequency of exams should increase as eye disease becomes more common. Some of these issues can cause permanent vision loss or even blindness and glasses or contact lenses can correct others problems.

Types of Eye Exams

At SightMD besides performing exams and necessary testing we also have the most up to date diagnostic equipment to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of various eye diseases. These include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and refractive errors.

Comprehensive Eye Exam

One of the most important preventive health activities is to have periodic comprehensive dilated eye exams. Our optometrists recommend them once per year for adults and children. This gives them a chance to inspect your eye anatomy and eye health before making a diagnosis. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a painless procedure. During which a doctor examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. Regular comprehensive eye exams can help you protect your sight and make sure that you are seeing your best.

eye exam

Why Get a Dilated Eye Exam?

To get a better view of the eye's internal structures, your eye doctor may use dilating drops to temporarily make your pupils larger. Dilating drops usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to start working. When dilated your pupils will be sensitive to light and you may notice difficulty focusing on objects up close. Pupil dilation is very important for people with risk factors for eye disease. It allows for the most thorough evaluation of the health of the inside of your eyes. These effects can last for up to several hours, depending on the strength of the drop used. Once the drops have taken effect, your eye doctor will use various instruments to look inside your eyes. Dilation is important for the doctor to be able to assess vital parts of your eye such as the optic nerves and retina that they are unable to examine otherwise. Without examining these parts of the eye doctors cannot rule out other diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. When dilated your near vision will become blurry, and doctors recommend you have someone go with you to drive home however most patients are able to drive. If you have any questions about your appointment, please do not hesitate to call our office

Routine Eye Exam

For those who need a basic eye exam to check on specific vision concerns, you’ll have what we call a “routine eye exam.” What is the difference between a comprehensive eye exam vs. a routine eye exam? A routine eye exam is often less than an hour long and involves just the vision, pupil, eye movement, and eye pressure tests to assess your eye health and look for refractive errors.

Contact Lens Exam

You will need a contact lens exam to determine your depth perception, visual acuity, and general eye health. Doctors need this examination before they can prescribe contacts. The appointment includes corneal topography and a tear film evaluation, as well as other tests for a comprehensive eye exam. The eye specialist will also show you how to insert and remove your contacts.

What To Expect During a Routine Eye Exam

A complete exam entails addressing any issues that you may be having with your eyes and evaluating the health of your eyes. During the exam your doctor will check your vision and eye pressure. If you have glasses or contacts that you currently wear or any eye drops that you are currently using, bring them with you so we know your baseline eye history. If necessary, we will check your glasses or contact lens prescription to determine if there is any change. Your doctor will dilate your eyes so that they can assess your eye for any diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, or diabetic retinopathy.

How Long Do Eye Exams Take?

On average you will be in the office for a comprehensive exam for about one to two hours depending on your own personal needs. If you need any special testing it may be slightly longer. Most ophthalmic appointments (check for glasses) usually last 45 minutes to one hour.

What Tests Will Be Performed?

These vision tests are some of the basic parts of an eye examination. During a typical eye exam, you’ll also discuss any recent vision changes you may have noticed. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you do not understand something during your appointment. Make sure to keep scheduling routine eye exams for optimal vision and healthy eyes.

Visual Acuity Test

This is the "eye chart" test that most people are familiar with. You're positioned about 20 feet away from the chart and asked to identify a series of letters printed on a chart. The lines of type get smaller as you move down the chart. You cover one eye and read aloud, then cover the other eye and read aloud.

Visual Refraction Eye Test

Refraction refers to the way light waves bend as they pass through your cornea and lens. A refraction assessment helps your doctor determine if you need vision correction as well as the corrective lens prescription that will help give you the sharpest, clearest vision. Your vision provider may use a device called a phoropter to help determine your refractive error. Performed in a dark room this exam helps you better view the images through the phoropter lenses. Repeating this step several times helps your provider find the lenses that can give you the best possible vision.

Visual Field Test

This test helps determine your field of vision for the area right in front of you, or what you can see without moving your eyes. It also checks your peripheral vision. While there are a few different types of visual field tests, the most common procedure is performed with a device called an auto perimeter. Your provider uses a computer program that flashes small lights as you look into the bowl-shaped auto perimeter. Your doctor will ask you to press a button when you see the lights.

Keratometry Test

This test measures the shape and curve of the outside of the eye, known as the cornea. The cornea’s shape affects how your light perceives and reflects light. Some people have corneas with steep or elongated curves, which results in a condition known as astigmatism. Optometrists use keratometry tests to detect astigmatism. During a keratometry test, you gaze into a special machine. Your eye doctor adjusts the machine, so it aligns with your eye. Then the optometrist reads the machine’s measurements, which indicate your cornea’s shape.

Glaucoma Test

This exam measures the pressure inside your eye, referred to as intraocular pressure. It helps your eye doctor detect glaucoma which when caught early is treatable. The most common test for glaucoma is a non-contact tonometry eye test. A device called a tonometer injects a puff of air into your eye to test the pressure. Pachymetry is another test used for glaucoma which measures the thickness of your cornea. This is an important factor in evaluating your intraocular pressure measurement.

Color Blind Test

This test screens for color blindness by examining your ability to distinguish colors. When asked you will detect a number or letter within an image of multicolored circles.


When prompted you will stare at a large target through a machine called a phoropter. Your eye care provider shines a light in your eyes and flips through a series of lenses determining if you need vision correction.

These descriptions of common eye tests should make it clear that eye exams are simple and painless. Make regular visits to a local eye doctor so your eyes can receive these important tests. If your optometrist performs additional tests at your appointment, ask him or her to explain them.

When Should I Have an Eye Exam?

For adults, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a baseline eye examination at age 40. This is the time when early signs of disease or changes in vision may occur. If you have an eye disease or if you have a risk factor for developing one, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of eye disease, you should see an ophthalmologist even if you are younger than 40. If you are 65 or older, you should have your eyes checked every year. The risk of developing age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma increases after this point.

How Much Do Eye Exams Cost?

Many people have both medical insurance and a separate vision care insurance (VSP, NVA, EyeMed, Davis Vision, Avesis). If you are planning on using your vision care insurance for a routine exam (you do not have any medical or surgical problem) we will make your appointment with our optometrist.

What Should I Bring to my Appointment?

Please bring your insurance cards to every visit as we need to see the card every time you come to be sure it has not changed. If your insurance requires a referral, it is up to you to make sure you have a valid one. We need payment of all co-pays, deductibles & refraction charges at time of visit.

For your appointment at our eye care practice, you should bring along the following:

· New Patient Forms

· Insurance cards

· Payment or Co-payment

· List of medications

· Past medical history and surgeries

· Eye glasses

· Contacts lenses

Contact SightMD today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss your vision health at one of our convenient locations!

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