Eye Exams: A Complete Guide

Eye Exams: A Complete Guide

Section Editor: Gary Heiting, OD

Eye exams don't have to be mysterious or scary. The following articles explain the importance of eye exams, what happens during an exam, and how to choose an eye doctor. If you haven't had a comprehensive eye exam yet, click here to find an eye doctor near you.

Specific types of exam and testing procedures are described below so you have a better understanding of what to expect at your next visit to your optometrist or ophthalmologist.


What to expect during a comprehensive eye exam

Are online eye tests and online eye exams any good? - NEW!

What the numbers actually mean on an eyeglass prescription

Eye exams for children: Is your child ready for school?

Are you colorblind? Testing for color vision problems

Eye charts and eye tests: how do they work?

Eye exam infographic

Infographic: A Look At Eye Exams - NEW! Our infographic includes how often to get an eye exam, what to expect and common myths about eye exams! (Includes code for you to embed on your own blog or website.)

Choosing The Right Eye Doctor: Optometrist Or Ophthalmologist? Explanation of various types of eye care professionals and what they do.

Visual Acuity: Is 20/20 Vision Considered Perfect Vision? What is perfect vision, and is it possible to achieve? What does 20/20 vision even mean?

Eye Exam Eye-Q Quiz Do you know why the eye doctor puts dilating eye drops in your eyes? What risk factors would make more frequent eye exams necessary? Put your knowledge to the test with our Eye-Q quiz!

Why Are Eye Exams Important? Routine eye exams can detect vision problems, eye disease and general health problems before you are aware a problem exists. Also, read why vision screenings are no substitute for a comprehensive eye exam performed by a licensed eye doctor.

Refractive Errors and Refraction: How the Eye Sees Learn how light travels through the eye, how the eye refracts or focuses light and how refractive errors affect vision. Also, how your eye doctor detects and corrects refractive errors.

Eye Exam Cost and When to Have an Eye Exam Learn how much an eye exam costs and how frequently you and your family members should have your eyes examined. Also, find out what information you should bring to your eye exam.

Free Eye Exams and Eyeglasses Learn about organizations that provide free eye exams for infants, children and families or individuals in financial need. Some also provide free eyeglasses.

Eye Exams for Contact Lenses If you plan to wear contact lenses, be sure you say so when you schedule an eye exam. Your eye doctor will need extra time for a contact lens fitting, which includes measurements of your eye's surface.

Understanding Your Contact Lens Rx You need a prescription for contacts, even if they're just for looks. Here's what all those numbers and terms mean on the Rx form.

Sports Vision Tests and Training Learn how sports vision tests help you improve hand-eye coordination, depth perception, eye-tracking ability and other skills.

Contrast Sensitivity Test A contrast sensitivity test can help your eye doctor determine if you have a vision problem that cannot be detected with a conventional eye chart.

Visual Field Testing A visual field test can detect central and peripheral vision problems caused by glaucoma, stroke and other eye or brain problems.

Wavefront Eye Exams Modern eye examinations using wavefront can identify even obscure vision errors that may now be corrected for the first time through LASIK, eyeglasses, or artificial lenses.


August 2016 — Does it matter to you what your eye doctor wears during your eye exam?

As with people in other walks of life, medical professionals disagree about the attire that is best for their workplace. Eye care providers are no exception: Some wear casual clothes or "business-casual" attire, while others prefer a white lab coat or business suit. Hospital scrubs are another common choice.

Would you rather have your eyes examined by an eye doctor who is wearing a business suit, white lab coat, surgical scrubs or casual clothes? Does it even matter?

A recent study asked 255 patients in Miami to view photos of dermatologists wearing a suit, a white coat ("professional attire"), surgical scrubs or casual clothing, then indicate which they preferred.

And guess what? Most preferred the white coat:

  • 73 percent: white coat

  • 19 percent: surgical attire

  • 6 percent: business suit

  • 2 percent: casual clothes

The researchers didn't ask for the reasons behind the preferences. But they did speculate that perhaps the patients' perceptions of the physicians' knowledge and skill were influenced by appearance, and the perceptions might even affect treatment outcomes.

JAMA Dermatology published a report of this study online in June. — L.S.

[Page updated August 2016]

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