What to Expect at Your Ophthalmologic Exam | Magruder Eye Institute

What to Expect at Your Ophthalmologic Exam

Globally, 1.3 billion people have some type of vision impairment.

If you have vision problems, visiting an Ophthalmologist might help improve your vision and increase your eye health. Even if you have great vision, there’s still a likely chance you’ll need to see an Ophthalmologist.

Are you visiting an Ophthalmologist for the first time? If so, you’re probably nervous about the appointment. Don’t worry, an Ophthalmologist visit is never to fear. But you should know what to expect before your appointment.

Here’s what you should know about your ophthalmologic exam, the different types of exams, and whether or not you need one.

Signs You Need an Ophthalmologic Exam

Ideally, everyone should get their eyes checked routinely. From cataracts to vision loss, there are many ailments that occur in the eyes. But certain signs point to urgent ophthalmologic care.

You Have a Health Condition That Affects Your Eyes

Certain health conditions can pose dangers to your eyes and your eye health. Neurological disorders are the most common example, but many ailments come with side effects that affect your eyes. These conditions include:

  • Optic Neuritis
  • Diabetes
  • Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Toxic optic nerve diseases and injuries
  • Stroke

You Experience Common Eye Symptoms

Most people experience dry, red, or itchy eyes. These can be due to a variety of factors, such as allergies. But it’s still best to see an Ophthalmologist because there could be dangerous underlying causes to these symptoms.

You should definitely see an Ophthalmologist if you experience uncommon eye symptoms such as seeing flashes of light, red spots, and floaters.

You Have Difficulty Seeing in the Dark

Everyone struggles to see in the dark. But in certain cases, your vision shouldn’t fully degrade. For example, if there are streetlights and your headlights are on, you should be able to see fine while driving at night.

If you struggle with this or your night vision is just weak in general, it’s time to get your eyes checked.

It’s Been Longer Than a Year Since Your Last Eye Exam

Ideally, everyone should get an eye exam at least once a year. If it has been over a year since your last exam, you should book one. If it’s been years since your last exam or you never had one, it’s definitely time to consider making an appointment.

You Have Trouble Following a Moving Target

If an object is moving in front of you, do you struggle to focus on that object? This can point to a range of different vision issues. In addition, you may also feel nauseous or dizzy if you focus on a moving target for too long.

You Experience Eye Strain After Staring at Screens

Our computer, phone, and tablet screens aren’t great for our eyes. But if your eyes feel strained and fatigued after spending a small amount of time looking at screens, such as during work, this can lead to eye issues.

Is your eye strain met with blurred vision or even headaches? If so, you definitely need to get your eyes checked.

You Notice Vision Changes After Head Trauma

Head trauma, such as a concussion, can lead to many issues. Vision changes are a perfect example. Get your eyes checked if you believe your vision is changing from past head trauma.

You Have Trouble Reading

Whether you’re reading something in print or digital format, healthy eyes shouldn’t have to squint or hold the material far away in order to read.

Even if your normal vision is fine, you should get an eye exam in case you need reading glasses.

What to Expect From Your Exam

If you’re positive you need an eye exam, you probably want to know what to expect. Even if you already have had an eye exam, you may need additional tests that you never did before. Here’s what you should know.

Who Should You Visit?

Most eye patients visit an Ophthalmologist. These are the most common eye doctors.

They can prescribe glasses and contacts, conduct full eye exams, provide full eye care, diagnosing and treating eye ailments, and they can even perform eye surgery.

However, they’re not the only eye doctors you can go to. Certain cases may call for another eye specialist.


Optometrists are similar to an Ophthalmologist in many ways. However, they can’t treat complex eye ailments or perform surgery. If this is what you need, then you’ll need to visit an ophthalmologist.


If you already had an eye exam and want to fill your prescription for glasses or contacts, you only need to see an Optician. They can fit, assemble, and sell glasses and contact lenses. Opticians don’t conduct full-on eye exams.

The Different Tests You Can Have

Each eye exam varies, depending on the test you have done. Here are a few examples.

Color Blindness Test

One of the earliest tests you’ll have done is the color blindness test. Most cases of color blindness are hereditary but some color vision issues can point to underlying eye health issues.

Visual Acuity Tests

This is one of the most famous eye exams. This measures the sharpness of your vision.

If you never had this test before, you can recognize the test — you’ll look at a chart with letters of all different sizes. You’re asked to identify the letters, both big and small.

This chart not only measures the sharpness of your near vision but of your far vision, as well.

Ocular Motility Testing

This test measures your eye movements and ensures they’re healthy.

The doctor will take a moving object and you will follow it with only your eyes. They may also make an object move quickly or ask you to focus on two objects, identifying how well your eyes move with these targets.

Cover Test

The cover test is another simple and common eye exam. There will be an object or chart at the end of a room. You’ll cover one eye and focus on that object or image with one eye. Then, you alternate eyes.

This measures your far sight. Ophthalmologists conduct a similar test but with a closer object to test your near sight.

Stereopsis Test

Stereopsis is the measurement of your depth perception. There are a few of these types of tests.

A famous one is wearing a pair of 3D glasses and staring at 3D images in a book. You have to point to which one looks like it’s moving closer to you.

Glaucoma Test

Glaucoma is a condition that causes optic nerve damage. It has few side effects and gets worse with age. The only way to know you have glaucoma is by conducting an eye exam.

The Ophthalmologist will measure the pressure in your eyes. They will do this using a variety of tools, the most common one being the non-contact tonometry, or NCT.

All this test does puff a small burst of air into your eyes — it’s painless and the equipment never touches your eye.

Slit Lamp Exam

This exam measures your whole entire eye areas, including your cornea, eyelid, iris, conjunctiva, and lens. The slit lamp is a microscope that uses high magnification to test your eye structures.

Visual Field Test

Not everyone will endure these tests. But if your Ophthalmologist thinks you have blind spots in your peripheral vision, they will conduct a field test.

Identifying blind spots are crucial because they can help pinpoint glaucoma and even brain damage, especially if you recently had a stroke.

What to Expect If You’re Getting Glasses

Did you already have an eye test and your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist has prescribed glasses? In order to know which exact prescription you need, you’ll have to do a few more tests. Here are the tests to expect.


Even if you don’t know the exact process of getting glasses, most will recognize refraction equipment. They use an instrument called the phoropter and place it on your head. The phoropter is a large instrument with many lenses.

The goal of refraction is finding the lenses that produce the clearest image. Just tell the doctor which lens offers the most clarity and they will prescribe those lenses to you.


A retinoscopy is conducted for patients with distance vision issues. It’s also used for children who may be too young to understand eye testing.

The doctor will dim the lights in the office and will ask you to focus on one object or image. While you focus on that image, your doctor will shine a light in your eyes and will flip different lenses.

The light reflects from the eyes, allowing the doctor to know which lenses you need. They will choose the lens that best corrects your vision distance issues.

Autorefractors and Aberrometers

Autorefractors and aberrometers are two similar tests. The equipment includes an area to secure your head and an area to look into; you’re usually staring at an image or even light.

The main difference is the type of prescription the patient needs. Autorefractors automatically focus light on your retina. These are quicker and more accurate, especially for patients who have trouble concentrating, such as children.

Aberrometers use wavefront technology to detect issues in the way light travels through your eyes.

What to Expect If You’re Getting Contacts

Are you opting for contacts instead of glasses? Do you plan on ditching your glasses?

Before you can wear your contacts, your ophthalmologist needs to test you for contacts. If you qualify for contact lenses, you’ll have to return for a separate appointment or you may have to go to a different doctor.

From here, your doctor will perform specific tests to see if contact lenses will correct your vision issues. Your doctor will also test your eyes to ensure you can comfortably wear contacts.

This includes performing a tear film evaluation, ensuring you have enough tear ducts.

If you previously wore glasses, bring your prescription to the appointment. This will help your doctor better understand your eye health and your ability to wear contacts.

If you’re approved, your doctor will find contacts that are best for you. This includes measuring your eye surface. You also have many options when choosing contacts.

This includes opting for disposable or extended wear contacts and even colored contacts.

After a week of wearing contacts, you need an appointment to follow-up with the contacts and ensure there are no problems. From here, you’ll visit your doctor at least once a year.

What You Can Do

No matter the reason you’re visiting an Ophthalmologist, there are things you can do to better prepare for your upcoming eye exam. Here are a few examples.

Before the Exam

If this is your first exam or if you’re seeing a new doctor, your doctor will ask questions about your vision and your past history with eye treatment.

Your doctor will also ask about your overall medical history, especially if you have, had, or a family member had any past ailments that affect the eyes.

Review this information and be honest. Retrieve your past glasses and contact prescriptions and have them ready for the appointment.

During the Exam

Answer all of your doctor’s questions clearly and honestly. If you’re experiencing any issues with your eyes, let them know.

Your doctor may perform basic tests, such as visual acuity, eye pressure, and even a visual distance test, depth perception test, or color blindness.

They may perform additional tests based on your family history and any problems you’re experiencing.

During these tests, do what your doctor says and answer their questions honestly.

After the Exam

Your next steps depend on your results. You may need to book a follow-up meeting if you need glasses or contact lenses, or if you require specific treatment.

If your eyes are healthy, talk to your eye doctor to see if and when you need another eye exam.

Do You Need an Eye Exam in Orlando?

There are many reasons why you’ll need an eye exam. If you’re nervous about what to expect, we hope this guide helped calm your fears!

But the most important fact to remember is you need to choose the best Ophthalmologist or Optometrist for the best experience.

Are you based in Orlando and need an Ophthalmologic exam? Request an appointment today.