Do They Touch Your Eye During an Eye Exam?

Learn what happens during an eye exam and why it's important for people with risk factors for developing certain diseases.

Do They Touch Your Eye During an Eye Exam?

You will be given eye drops containing fluorescein, the same dye used in a regular slit-lamp exam. You will also receive eye drops that contain an anesthetic. Using the slit lamp, the doctor moves the tonometer to touch the cornea and determine eye pressure. First, your eye doctor or a member of the office staff will ask you about your medical and vision history.

This checks if the fluid pressure inside the eyes is within the normal range. Anesthetic drops will be placed in your eyes, after which you will be asked to look straight ahead. A technician will barely touch the front surface of each eye with an instrument called a tonometer or Tonopen, which measures pressure. This is a quick and painless part of the exam.

In retinoscopy, the room's lights are dimmed and you'll be asked to focus on a large target (usually the big E on the optometric chart). While you're staring at E, the eye doctor will illuminate your eye with a light and place the lenses in a machine in front of your eyes. This test estimates which lens powers will best correct your distance vision. Eye movement tests, also known as eye motility tests, allow the doctor to see how quickly the eyes can follow moving objects and then focus on different targets.

This usually happens when your eye doctor asks you to follow a portable light with your eyes. If the eye doesn't move properly, this can lead to eye fatigue, which can affect sports vision and reading. Dilation is used during an eye exam with dilated dilation to detect eye diseases before they begin to cause significant damage to vision health. By dilating the eyes, more light will be allowed to enter them, which will help the eye doctor detect eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Among the first tests performed in a comprehensive eye exam are visual acuity tests, which measure the sharpness of vision. If you have had eye problems in the past, or if you are at risk of developing them (if someone in your family has had them), you should see an eye doctor every year. Pupil dilation is very important for people with risk factors for eye diseases, since it allows a more comprehensive evaluation of the health inside the eyes. If you have a health problem, such as high blood pressure, work at a job that requires you to use your eyes a lot, or take medications that can affect your vision, you may need more frequent tests.

At the beginning of a complete eye exam, a screening test is done that checks color vision frequently to rule out color blindness. During a concealment test, your eye doctor will ask you to focus on a small object on the other side of the room and then cover each of your eyes alternately while you look at the target. Anyone who is at risk of suffering from eye disease should undergo dilation because it is one of the most exhaustive ways of analyzing the eye. A routine (or comprehensive) exam uses a wide variety of tests and procedures to evaluate vision and eye health.

Once the drops take effect, the eye doctor will use several instruments to look inside the eyes. A slit lamp is a binocular microscope (or biomicroscope) that the eye doctor uses to examine eye structures at high magnification. These tests range from simple tests, such as having you read an optometric chart, to complex tests, such as using a high-powered lens to view the tiny structures inside the eyes. To get a better view of the internal structures of the eye, the eye doctor places dilating drops to enlarge the pupils.

Eye dilation may affect the next few hours of the day; your vision may become a little blurry and your eyes will be more sensitive to light. When focusing on a small object at a certain distance, a technician will cover and uncover each eye to see how much they move. While there are many ways in which an ophthalmologist can check how your eyes work together, one of simplest and most common methods is called coverage testing.

Kelli Roswick
Kelli Roswick

Avid internet enthusiast. Certified twitter enthusiast. Amateur internet trailblazer. Lifelong internet specialist. Amateur pop culture guru.

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