What is the Most Common Eye Test?

Learn about different types of common eye tests such as non-contact tonometry, visual acuity tests & retinoscopy used by optometrists for diagnosing & treating vision problems.

What is the Most Common Eye Test?

The most common test for measuring eye pressure today is non-contact tonometry. A device called a tonometer injects a puff of air into the eye to measure pressure. The original optometric chart designed in the 1860s by the Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen is the first line of this graph, which is a giant letter E. You read the graphic from top to bottom, from left to right, covering one eye at a time.

Edmund Landolt, a Swiss ophthalmologist, created this visual acuity chart. This optometric chart, which is similar to the Tumbling E graphic, uses a Landolt broken ring symbol in several orientations. Landolt's C chart is a way to check vision in illiterate or mute patients. The study of early treatment of diabetic retinopathy helped to develop standardization for both visual acuity tests and for the design of optometric tables.

The National Eye Institute and the Food and Drug Administration accept ETDRS as the mandatory standard for clinical eye testing trials around the world. When you imagine an eye exam, do you imagine yourself looking at a thick instrument with numerous lenses and dials? This machine is called a phoropter and your optometrist uses it to perform a retinoscopy. Retinoscopy allows the optometrist to approach optimal lens prescription. As you look through the phoropter, the eye doctor places different lenses in front of your eyes.

You focus on a prominent object in front of you (often the “E” in the top row of an optometric chart). The optometrist shines a light on the eyes and observes how the light affects the eyes with different lenses. Along with a retinoscopy, a refraction test determines the prescription for eyeglasses. You also look intently at the phoropter and look at the optometric chart on the opposite wall during this vision test.

This test measures the shape and curve of the outer part of the eye, known as the cornea. The shape of the cornea affects how light perceives and reflects light. Some people have corneas with pronounced or elongated curves, causing a condition known as astigmatism. Optometrists use keratometry tests to detect astigmatism.

During a keratometry test, you stare intently at a special machine. The eye doctor adjusts the machine to align with the eye. The optometrist then reads the measurements from the machine, which indicate the shape of the cornea. The optometrist can also perform a manual measurement of intraocular pressure to obtain a more accurate reading.

This test uses special instruments that gently touch the eye to measure internal pressure. Before the test, the optometrist will apply anesthetic eye drops to make sure that you don't feel the instruments during the test. At least 2.2 billion people have vision problems around the world, and 1 billion of these cases could be prevented or have not yet been addressed. Most people know the visual acuity test as an eye chart test.

With a visual acuity test, the eye doctor will ask you to read a line of letters from an optometric chart. You will read the graphic twice, one eye at a time. In a slit-lamp exam, the eye doctor will look in bright light through a microscope called a slit lamp to get a better view of the eye. This allows the optometrist to examine the cornea, iris, lens, and anterior chamber.

Visual field tests help test direct and peripheral vision. In a visual refraction test, you will be told to look through a phoropter (a thick machine with numerous lenses and dials) on the optometric table in front of you. Retinoscopy is another test that uses the phoropter to determine the prescription for your lenses. The classic example of an eye test is the Snellen optometric chart, developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Hermann Snellen in 1860s.

During an eye exam, your eye doctor will ask you to look for smallest line of letters you can read and then ask you to read it. Because optometric charts only measure visual acuity, they can help your eye doctor determine if you need prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses. In addition to prescribing corrective eyeglasses, eye doctors also diagnose common vision problems such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. An optometrist performs many different vision tests during routine eye exam, including the eye chart test.

Optometric charts are just one of many tools doctor uses when performing an eye exam but they serve valuable purpose in monitoring vision. The eye doctor asks you to look at optometric chart and read smallest line of text you can see from distance of 20 feet. Read on to learn about different types of eye tests and how they help diagnose and treat eye problems. However since many eye doctors have offices that are less than 20 feet long, optometric chart can be hung behind patient's chair and reflected in mirrors to simulate distance of 20 feet.

If you have any concerns or problems with your vision don't hesitate to schedule an eye exam with us today. To assess your close vision your eye doctor may use small handheld card called Jaeger optometric chart. In United States standard location of optometric chart is on wall that is 20 feet away from eyes.

Kelli Roswick
Kelli Roswick

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