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What happens during an eye exam

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If you wear glasses or contacts, you are probably no stranger to the optometrist's office. But even if you have yet to encounter any problems with your vision, it's a good idea to incorporate a periodic visit to the eye doctor into your long-term health maintenance plan.

Regular eye exams are an important part of detecting and preventing vision problems. The American Optometric Association recommends that adults have their vision examined every two years until age 60 and once each year after that.1 More recent visits are advised for patients with certain medical conditions and risk factors, including a family history of eye disease, a prescription for drugs with known ocular side effects, or working conditions that could potentially expose the eyes to excessive strain or danger.

Will this be on the test?

If it's been a while since you last had your eyes checked, you may be wondering what to expect. We'll walk you through a few of the most common tests that might occur during a typical eye exam.

Standard tests

A standard eye exam, which could last approximately an hour, may include the following:

  • Visual acuity test — You may be asked to cover one eye and read an eye chart, with letters that get increasingly smaller on each line. Results are expressed as a fraction. 20/20 is considered normal, and abnormal results could indicate you may need glasses.2
  • Eye muscle movement test — You may be asked to follow a moving target with your eyes to test your eye muscle strength and control.
  • Cover test — You may be asked to stare at a small target some distance away while your doctor covers and uncovers each eye. This test checks how well your eyes work together, looking to see if one eye turns away from the target.
  • Visual field test — To check for issues with your peripheral vision, you may need to stare straight ahead while your doctor slowly moves an object from the side of your head to the front.
  • Color vision test — This test examines your ability to distinguish colors, screening for color blindness. You might be asked to detect a number or letter within an image of multicolored circles.
  • Retinoscopy — While you stare at a large target through a machine, called a phoropter, your doctor may shine a light in your eyes and flip through a series of lenses. This can help determine if you need glasses.
  • Pupil dilation — Your doctor may place drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils. This allows your doctor to examine your retina for signs of damage and disease.

Additional tests

Additional tests may be conducted to examine your cornea, iris, lens, retina, optic nerves and more. If you have any questions about your specific exam, don't hesitate to contact your doctor's office beforehand. The more prepared you are, the likelier you are to be relaxed, helping to ensure a pleasant and productive eye exam.

What to bring

Write down the names and dosages of medications you are taking, and bring along any prescription or over-the-counter vision aids you might use (e.g., reading glasses). Be prepared to answer questions about your medical history and any family history of vision problems. It's also a good idea to bring a pair of sunglasses and arrange for a ride home, in case you will have your pupils dilated during the exam.

Click here to find an eye specialist near you who accepts CareCredit.

All statements and opinions in "Healthy Vision Month" are the sole opinions of the Customer Communications Group and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.

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