Eye Test: What you need to know

Eye tests, also known as sight tests or eye examinations, are an important part of maintaining good eye health. Carried out by an optometrist, eye tests not only test your sight, but also check the overall health of your eyes, and can, on occasion, identify a general health issue.

What can you expect from eye tests?

Eye tests have come a long way in recent years. Along with the traditional eye test chart, optometrists now use state of the art technology to perform thorough sight tests and detect underlying health problems.

At the beginning of your eye exam, the optometrist may ask you why you are having your eyes tested. You will also be asked some questions about underlying health conditions and any ongoing medication you are taking. You may also be asked whether you have any close family members suffering with eye problems or certain illnesses. Further questions might include whether you experience regular headaches. Any questions will have a relevance to your individual examination.

It’s important to take your glasses, contact lenses or both with you when you attend an eye test. Your vision will be measured both with and without glasses or contact lenses to check for any changes or problems with your eyesight. Using various methods, the optometrist will assess your distance vision, your near vision and your intermediate vision:1

  • The optometrist will examine both the inside and outside of your eyes. This will help them to judge the general health of your eyes, but it may also identify any medical conditions. The examination may include testing your pupil-reflexes. They will also look inside the eye to assess the internal structures of the eye.
  • A vision test will then be carried out to judge your near and long-range vision. Your optometrist will undertake a series of tests to help uncover any problems with your sight which might require glasses or contact lenses to correct. You will be asked to look at an eye test chart, and by asking you to look through a methodically selected range of lenses, make your sight clearer.
  • Your eye movements and co-ordination will then be checked in order to make sure that both eyes are working together, and that there is no stress on the eyes’ muscles.

How long does an eye test take?

Eye examinations are usually fairly quick, taking around 20-30 minutes from start to finish. Sometimes however it can take longer if you need extra tests to check your eye health and sight2.

After your eye test – results explained

Once the eye test is complete, your optometrist will discuss the results with you, and if needed, will talk through your options with you. This is a great time to ask any questions you might have, not only if you need glasses or contact lenses but generally about your eye health.

Eye tests for contact lens wearers

If you wear contact lenses, it’s imperative that you see your optometrist or contact lens optician for regular check-ups. Likewise, if you are thinking about switching from glasses to contact lenses, you must see a professional first as contact lens examinations are not usually performed as part of a routine eye exam3.

During the exam, your vision will be tested using an eye chart. A number of tests will be performed in order to determine your eye health and whether prescription eyewear is required to correct your eyesight. After this has been completed, your optometrist or contact lens optician will gather additional information, such as general questions about your lifestyle and preferences regarding contact lenses, in order to find the best contact lenses for you.

Once you have jointly decided which contact lenses you would like, the optometrist or contact lens optician will then measure your eyes and their shape using specialist equipment. The front of your eye will be evaluated in detail using a biomicroscope. This instrument provides a magnified view of the cornea and other tissues to enable the optometrist or contact lens optician to evaluate the health of the front of your eyes and detect any changes caused by contact lens wear.

If you are unsure or have concerns about your eyes, always seek advice from your regular optometrist.