General Eye Examinations 

What can I expect in my general eye examination?
Assistant Examination:

The first person to examine you is our ophthalmic assistant.


  1. History: The assistant will ask you questions about any current eye problems, your history of eye diseases and surgeries, a family history of eye disease, your medical history and any medications and supplements that you are using. It is helpful to have a list of all your medications as well as a list of drug allergies.

  2. Visual Acuity Test: How well you see is measured by asking you to identify letters, numbers or pictures on an eye chart. Distance vision is checked on a projected chart and reading vision is checked with a small hand held chart.

  3. Pupil Reflexes: The assistant uses a hand held light and briefly shines it on your eyes.

  4. Eye Movements: The assistant will ask you to follow an object into various positions of gaze. Children will have a covertest to check for turned eyes. Children are routinely checked for 3D vision.

  5. Eye Pressure Screen: You will have air puffed on the eye to check the eye pressure. This test is for teenagers and adults.

  6. Automated Refraction: This test gives the doctor a rough measurement of an eyeglass prescription, which is then refined by the doctor.

  7. Eye Drops: Almost everyone requires dilating eye drops for a full eye examination. Eye drops can sting for a fewseconds immediately after instillation. They require between 20 to 30 minutes to take effect. The blurring associated with eye drops usually lasts 3 – 5 hours in adults and 4 – 8 hours in children. The dilation (enlargement of the pupil) can last 24 hours.


Doctor Examination:

After waiting for the drops to work, the next person you will see is the doctor. You will be asked to sit in an examination room to wait for the doctor.

  1. Refraction: The doctor will check what your best possible vision is by testing you with various lenses and then will prescribe glasses as needed.

  2. Slit Lamp Examination: A slit lamp is a type of microscope. With a thin beam of light the doctor examines the eyelids and eyes. You will be asked to place your chin on a chin rest and rest your forehead against a bar.

  3. Eye Pressure Measurement: In some cases the pressure screen done by the assistant is not sufficient to check eye pressure and the doctor will repeat this test. A yellow anaesthetic drop is used so you do not feel the doctor touching your cornea (front window of the eye) with a prism. The prism is disinfected after each use. This technique is known as Goldmann applanation tonometry.

  4. Retina Examination: The optic nerve and central retina are often checked at the slit lamp but in some cases a directophthalmoscope is used. This is the same instrument your family doctor uses when checking your eyes. The peripheral retina is examined using an indirect ophthalmoscope. Using a light source placed on the doctors head, a beam of light passes through a hand held lens and onto your retina.