Do I really need an eye exam?

If you see clearly you may think you don’t even need a regular eye exam but that’s not the case. Some vision and health problems show up in eye exams before vision is affected, so it’s important to have regular eye exams. Vision robbing diseases such as glaucoma often have no warning signs. Your eyes are often a window into your overall health as well, having them checked regularly can help detect signs of disease early on. Diseases and conditions that may present as vision issues include: diabetes, muscular dystrophy, tumour and stroke.

How long does an eye exam take?

A comprehensive eye exam can take an hour or more, depending on the doctor and the number and complexity of tests required to fully evaluate your vision and the health of your eyes.

What can I expect during a comprehensive eye exam?

It depends on the number of tests needed to evaluate your eyes. There are a wide variety of tests and procedures that may be used to examine your eyes. These tests range from reading an eye chart, to looking into a high-powered lens, to taking images of your retina. An eye exam includes: visual acuity tests (measure your vision clarity) refractive status assessments (how light is refracted in the eye), binocular assessments (how your eyes work together), accommodation assessments (to measure focus) and tests to evaluate the health of your eye to rule out diseases such as glaucoma. Refraction assessments determine your level of hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. By testing for these issues and astigmatism, vision correction can be achieved through eyeglasses, contact lenses or laser surgery. The tests and tools below help us measure your acuity, and the overall health of your eye.

Our Eye Exams Include

Cover test

The cover test is the simplest and most common test to determine how your eyes are working together. During a cover test, you will be asked to focus on a small object across the room and cover each of your eyes alternately while you stare at the target. The test is then repeated with you looking at a near object. Doing this allows us to determine if the uncovered eye must move to pick up the target which may indicate strabismus or another problem that could cause eye strain or lead to amblyopia (“lazy eye”).

Ocular motility testing and Binocular evaluation (eye movements)

Ocular motility testing helps to determine how well your eyes can follow a moving object and/or quickly move between and accurately fixate on two separate targets. Having you hold your head still you will be asked to follow the slow movement of a hand-held light with just your eyes. You may also be asked to move your eyes back and forth between two focal points to evaluate quick eye movements. Binocular testing evaluates how your eyes work together.

Stereopsis test (depth perception)

This test is used to determine normal depth perception and appreciation of the 3-dimensional nature of objects. You may be asked to wear a pair of “3D” glasses and look at a booklet of test patterns to describe which appears closer to you, determining your depth perception and how your eyes work together.

Refractive Assessment

This test is used to determine your exact eyeglass prescription. An instrument called a phoropter is placed in front of your eyes and you are shown a series of lens choices telling us which is clearer. Based on your answers, we are able to determine a final eyeglass prescription.


These devices automatically estimate your eyeglass prescription. Autorefractors are especially helpful for determining an eyeglass prescription for young children and other patients who may have trouble sitting still, paying attention and providing feedback required to perform an accurate manual refraction.

Complete assessment of the anterior segment of your eyes-Slit Lamp Exam

A slit lamp is a binocular microscope used to examine the structures of your eye under high magnification. During this exam, you will be asked to place your forehead and chin securely against the rests while the structures of the front of your eyes — including your eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva, iris, and lens are examined. With the help of a hand-held lens, with the slit lamp we can often examine the retina and optic nerve at the back of the eye. A wide range of eye conditions and diseases can be detected with the slit lamp exam, including cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal ulcers and diabetic retinopathy, etc.

Intraocular pressure tests for Glaucoma

Testing for glaucoma typically begins with measuring the pressure within your eyes using pressure tests which include: “Puff-of-air” test- a small puff of air is directed into your open eye. Based on your eye’s resistance to the puff of air, the machine calculates your intraocular pressure (IOP). If you have high eye pressure, you may be at risk for or have glaucoma. Applanation tonometry test- A numbing agent combined with a yellow dye that glows under a blue light are administered through drops. You will be asked to stare into the slit lamp while a tonometer is applied lightly to measure your eye pressure. (IOP) Both tests are painless and take only a few seconds.

Pupil Assessment

A light will be shone into your eyes to gage how your pupil reacts to it to determine if there are anomalies that might be an indication of other health conditions. Posterior segment disease is checked for through a Pupil Dilation Test to examine the retina, the optic nerve and the other structures at the back of the eye. Dilating drops are administered, then after 20 to 30 minutes once they take effect, various instruments are used to examine your eyes. Pupil dilation is very important for people with risk factors for eye disease, because it allows for the most thorough evaluation of the health of the inside of your eyes.

Retinal Imaging

This is often used instead of pupil dilation. We use Optomap a modern retinal imaging device which enables us to capture a high-resolution, wide-angle photograph of your retina without needing to use dilating drops. The benefit to this procedure is the images can be saved to see how the eye is changing over time.

Visual field test

This test is used to check for blind spots (scotomas) in your peripheral vision often a sign of eye diseases such as glaucoma. Analyzing blind spots can also help to pinpoint specific areas of brain damage in incidences of a stroke or tumor.

Those are just some of the tools and tests that help us to accurately determine the health of your eye and any vision problems. The tests are comfortable and painless. Don’t wait. Book your comprehensive eye exam with us, your Toronto optometrist office, today!

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