Standard ophthalmic exam; Routine eye examination; Eye exam - standard; Annual eye exam
A standard eye exam is a series of tests done to check your vision and the health of your eyes.
First, 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 any factors that have made them better or worse.
Your history of glasses or contact lenses will also be reviewed. The eye doctor will then ask about your overall health, including any medicines you take and your family's medical history.
Next, the doctor will check your vision (visual acuity) using a Snellen chart.
Other parts of the exam include tests to:
Another magnifying device, called a slit lamp, is used to:
Make an appointment with an eye doctor (some take walk-in patients). Avoid eye strain on the day of the test. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring them with you. You may need someone to drive you home if the doctor uses eye drops to dilate your pupils.
The tests cause no pain or discomfort.
All children should have vision screening in a pediatrician's or family practitioner's office around the time when they learn the alphabet, and then every 1 to 2 years afterward. Screening should begin sooner if any eye problems are suspected.
Between ages 20 and 39:
Adults over age 40 who have no risk factors or ongoing eye conditions should be screened:
Depending on your risk factors for eye diseases and your current symptoms or illnesses, your eye doctor may recommend that you have exams more often.
Some of the eye and medical problems that can be found by a routine eye test include:
Results of a routine eye exam are normal when the eye doctor finds you have:
Abnormal results may be due to any of the following:
This list may not include all possible causes of abnormal results.
If you receive drops to dilate your eyes for the ophthalmoscopy, your vision will be blurred.
In rare cases, the dilating eyedrops cause:
Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW. Eyes. In: Ball JW, Dains JE, Flynn JA, Solomon BS, Stewart RW, eds. Seidel's Guide to Physical Examination. 9th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2019:chap 12.
Chuck RS, Dunn SP, Flaxel CJ; American Academy of Ophthalmology Preferred Practice Pattern Committee, et al. Comprehensive adult medical eye evaluation preferred practice pattern. Ophthalmology. 2021;128(1):1-29. www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(20)31026-5/fulltext. Published November 12, 2020. Accessed March 2, 2021.
Olitsky SE, Marsh JD. Examination of the eye. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 637.
Prokopich CL, Hrynchak P, Flanagan JG, Hynes AF, Chisholm C. Ocular health assessment. In: Elliott DB, ed. Clinical Procedures in Primary Eye Care. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 7.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 3/2/2021
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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