Eye exam – What to Expect

What to expect during a standard eye exam:


A complete eye exam involves a series of tests designed to evaluate your vision and check for eye conditions and/or diseases. Annual eye exams are important not only to determine if you need correction, but also to maintain your eye health. Dr. Adelson will use a variety of instruments, shine bright lights directly at your eyes and request that you look through a number of lenses. Each test during an eye exam evaluates a different aspect of your vision or eye health.

  1. You will fill out new patient forms or bring them in if you have downloaded them off our site .
  2. You will be asked about your medical history, overall health and asked about any medications you are currently taking as well as your family’s medical history.
  3. You will be asked if you are having any eye or vision problems. You will be asked to describe these problems, how long you have had them and anything that seems to make these conditions better or worse.
  4. Your history of glasses or contact lenses will then be reviewed.
  5. Visual Acuity Test: This test measures how clearly you see at a distance. Dr. Adelson will ask you to identify different letters of the alphabet printed on a chart or a screen positioned some distance away. The lines of type get smaller as you move down the chart. Each eye is tested separately while the other eye is covered.
  6. External Eye Exam: Dr. Adelson will quickly evaluate the exterior of the eyes to ensure they are functioning properly. This includes: checking corneas, pupils and the iris.
  7. Refraction Test: Light waves are bent as they pass through your cornea and lens. If light rays don’t focus perfectly on the back of your eye, you have “refractive error.” Having refractive error may mean you need some form of correction, such as glasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery. This assessment of your refractive error helps Dr. Adelson determine a lens prescription that will give you the sharpest vision. Refraction assessment may also determine that you don’t need corrective lenses. To perform this test, Dr. Adelson will use a computerized refractor to measure the curve of the surface of your eyes and estimate your prescription for glasses or contact lenses. He will use a technique called retinoscopy. In this procedure he shines a light into your eye and measures the refractive error by evaluating the movement of the light reflected by your retina back through your pupil. Dr. Adelson then finetunes this assessment by having you look through a device that contains different lenses. You’ll be asked which combination of lenses gives you the sharpest vision. Dr. Adelson will find the lenses that give you the sharpest visual acuity.
  8. Visual Field Test: Your visual field is the full extent of what you can see to the sides without moving your eyes, your peripheral vision. The visual field test determines whether you have difficulty seeing in any areas of your overall field of vision. Dr. Adelson uses a computer program that flashes small lights as you look into a special instrument. You press a button when you see the lights. Using your responses to one or more of these tests will determine the fullness of your field of vision.
  9. Slit-Lamp Exam: A slit lamp is a microscope that magnifies and illuminates the front of your eye with an intense line of light. Dr. Adelson uses this light to examine the eyelids, lashes, cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber between your cornea and iris. When examining your cornea, he may use a dye called fluorescein to color the film of tears over your eye and see any damaged cells on the front of your eye. Your tears wash the dye from the surface of your eye almost immediately.
  10. Retinal Exam: Allows Dr. Adelson to evaluate the back of your eye, including your retina, optic disk and the underlying layer of blood vessel. Sometimes your pupils will need to be dilated with eyedrops that keep the pupil from getting smaller when light is shined into the eye. The retinal examination takes less than 10 minutes, but it may take several hours for the effects of the dilating drops to wear off. Your vision will likely be blurry, and you may have trouble focusing on near objects. If light bothers you, you may need to wear sunglasses for a short time. You may be uncomfortable driving with dilated pupils, so make sure you have transportation after your exam. Depending on what you need to see at work, you might need to wear reading glasses or remove glasses that correct for nearsightedness until the effects of the eyedrops wear off.

Other parts of the exam include tests to:

  • See if you have proper three-dimensional (3D) vision.
  • Check for color vision
  • Check the eye muscles by asking you to look in different directions at a penlight or other small object.
  • Glaucoma screening – using a tonometer, he will test the fluid pressure inside your eyes.


At the end of your eye exam, Dr. Adelson will be able to provide a detailed visual assessment along with any preventative measures you need to be aware of how to protect your eyesight.

How to Prepare for the Test

Make an appointment with Dr. Adelson. Avoid eye strain on the day of the test. You may need someone to drive you home if eye drops are used to dilate your pupils. The tests cause no pain or discomfort.

When to get an eye exam


Between ages 20 and 39:

  • A complete eye exam should be done every 5 years
  • Adults who wear contact lenses need yearly eye exams
  • Certain eye symptoms or disorders will require more frequent exams

Adults over age 40 who have no risk factors or ongoing eye conditions should be screened:

  • Every 2 to 4 years for adults ages 40 – 54
  • Every 1 to 3 years for adults ages 55 – 64
  • Every 1 to 2 years for adults age 65 and older

Depending on your risk factors for eye diseases and your current symptoms, Dr. Adelson may recommend that you have exams more often.

Dr. Adelson may give you a prescription for corrective lenses. If your eye exam shows abnormal results, he will discuss with the next steps for further testing or treatment plans for the underlying condition.

To schedule your eye exam, give us a call today at at 866-340-EYES.