Standard ophthalmic exam
A standard ophthalmic exam is a series of tests done to check your vision and health of your eyes.
See also: Refraction test
The eye doctor will ask questions about your overall health and family's medical history. You should tell the doctor if you have noticed any eye problems.
The doctor checks your vision (visual acuity) using a chart of random letters of different sizes. This is called the Snellen chart.
To see inside your eye, the doctor looks through a magnifying glass that has a light on the end (an ophthalmoscope). The device allows the doctor to see the retina, fundus (back of the eye), retinal vessels, and optic nerve head (optic disc). Sometimes, you'll be given eye drops so that the doctor can better view the back of the eye. Another magnifying device called a slit lamp is used to see the clear surface of the eye (cornea).
Different machines and methods test your eye's reaction to light, eye movement, and peripheral vision. To see if you need glasses, the doctor places several lenses in front of your eye, one at a time, and asks you when the letters on the Snellen chart are easier to see.
Make an appointment with the eye doctor (some take walk-in patients). Avoid eye strain the day of the test. You will need someone to drive you home if the doctor dilates your eyes.
The tests cause no pain or discomfort.
You should have regular eye exams. Such exams allow for early detection of eye problems and help determine the cause of vision changes.
Various eye and medical problems can be found by a routine eye test, including glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, and diabetes. People with diabetes should have their eyes examined at least once a year.
Certain types of work require that you get eye exams. For example, pilots, race car drivers, and military personnel.
- 20/20 (normal) vision
- Ability to differentiate colors
- No signs of glaucoma
- Normal optic nerve, retinal vessels, and fundus
- Damaged optic nerves, vessels, or fundus
- Corneal abrasion (or dystrophy)
- Color blindness
- Strabismus (motility disturbance between eyes)
- Eye diseases
- Corneal ulcers and infections
- Blocked tear duct
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD)
- Diabetic retinopathy
If you received drops to dilate your eyes for the ophthalmoscopy, your vision will be blurred and sunlight can damage your eye. Wear dark glasses or shade your eyes to avoid discomfort until the dilation wears off.
Many eye diseases, if detected early, are curable or can be treated.
Reviewed By: Manju Subramanian, MD, Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery, Boston University Eye Associates, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.