If you have an eye exam coming up or are simply curious about what happens during the examination process, we’ve prepared an informational guide so you’ll be well-informed. An eye exam is a test performed by your optometrist to assess the overall health of your eyes, as well as to identify any vision issues you may have. Generally lasting around an hour, these exams are composed of a sequence of smaller tests that look at a variety of factors including your depth perception, vision quality, and eye movement, along with checking for any signs of disease. Below we’ve written a section for each step of the process that explains each of them in detail.

Visual Acuity

Your optometrist will perform a vision test by having you read letters on a chart 20 feet away. The smallest letter you can read is recorded as your visual acuity. A person with normal vision would be considered to have 20/20 vision. Using this measurement, if you had 20/60 vision, for example, you would be able to see at 20 feet what a person with normal vision could see at 60 feet.

Visual Fields

The purpose of this next test is to assess your field of vision as well as your peripheral vision to identify any dysfunctions in your central or peripheral vision that may be tied to underlying conditions, such as brain tumours, glaucoma or other neurological issues.

Extraocular Movements

This test is designed to test your eye muscles and movement. To carry it out, your optometrist will have you follow an instrument such as a pen with your eyes, to see if there are any vision restrictions.

Pupillary Tests

Testing your pupillary reactions is important and can reveal several health and neurological problems that otherwise wouldn’t be evident. During this step, your doctor will test how your pupils react and change to gain an accurate assessment of the health of your eyes and even your overall health.

Cover Test

This test is intended to measure how well the eyes work together for the purpose of fixating on a particular target. Your doctor will examine the results of this test to help detect lazy eyes, a loss of depth perception or even crossed eyes.


A refraction test has the unique and important role of helping to determine if a patient is nearsighted, farsighted or has ailments such as astigmatism or presbyopia.

Slit Lamp

To examine your eye in more depth, your doctor uses a slit lamp, which magnifies your eyes and uses a very bright light to illuminate your eye so your doctor can view clearly the entirety of your eye structure. During this process, your doctor will inspect the front and back of your eyes, as well as the eyelids, to check for any visible defects or conditions such as cataracts.

Air Puff Test

The purpose of this test is to measure the eye’s pressure. It calls for testing the pressure of the cornea in particular. In the case that your eye’s pressure is found to be higher than normal, it means you are potentially at risk for developing glaucoma.

Dilated Fundus Examination

In order to perform this test, eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils, so a tool can be used to inspect the eye nerves, blood vessels and overall health of your eye. This test also gives your doctor the ability to detect several eye diseases that are invisible to the naked eye.

I hope that after reading this guide any concerns or worries you may have had about eye exams are relieved. What happens during eye exams are simple, routine procedures only intended to ensure that your eye is functioning well. If your doctor recommends you get an eye exam, come see us at Laurier Optical. Our experienced optometrists perform comprehensive eye exams at affordable prices