During an eye exam, your provider checks your vision and eye health. Eye doctors can also detect health problems that aren’t eye-related. Get your eyes checked regularly. Eye exams are painless, and they are an essential part of maintaining good overall health.
During a complete eye exam, your provider takes a close look at your eyes and does several tests. Some tests check your vision and determine if you need glasses or contacts. Other tests assess your eye health and check for eye disease. An exam can help providers evaluate your overall health.
Your provider will use special equipment, instruments and lights to look in your eyes. These tests don’t usually hurt, but they may be a little uncomfortable. With regular eye exams, your provider monitors changes in your vision, detects eye problems and helps you keep your eyes healthy.
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Optometrists and ophthalmologists are doctors who specialize in caring for your eyes. An eye doctor performs eye exams and diagnoses and treats eye problems. Ophthalmologists can also perform surgery to correct eye issues.
An optician helps you with corrective lenses. An optician isn’t a doctor, but they have training to help you choose eyeglass frames. They also ensure that glasses and contact lenses fit.
Most children and adults should get a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years. People with a higher risk of eye disease or vision problems may need to get their eyes checked more often. You may need more frequent eye exams if you:
After asking about your health and family history, your provider will perform several tests. Some tests check your vision. Other tests evaluate your eye health, including the muscles and blood vessels around your eyes.
During an eye exam, your provider will shine a light on your pupil to see how it dilates. The pupil is the small opening at the center of your iris (the colored part of your eye). Your provider will also check how your eyes move, focus and work together as a team. Standard tests during an eye exam include:
Comprehensive eye exams give your provider information about your vision. They tell eye doctors whether you need corrective lenses and what your prescription is. During an eye exam, your provider will also look for eye-related concerns, including:
Your provider will also check for a wide range of conditions, diseases and disorders that aren’t necessarily eye-related. Problems or changes in the eyes can be a sign of several conditions, including:
If you’ve had your eyes dilated, your vision will be blurry for several hours after the exam. Your eyes will also be more sensitive to light. For a few hours after an eye dilation, you should avoid driving, reading and looking at screens. Make sure to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun as your pupils shrink back to normal. If you don’t need dilation, you can get back to your usual activities right away.
Most of the time, your provider will give you results from your eye exam right away. If you need glasses or contacts, you’ll leave the appointment with a prescription. You’ll also have information about your vision, eye structure and eye health. Sometimes your provider may recommend a follow-up appointment or additional tests.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Eye exams not only help you see better, they also detect eye problems that can cause vision loss. Many of these problems don’t have any outward signs or symptoms, so the only way to catch them is through an exam. Ask your provider how often you should get an eye exam. When you see your eye doctor, be sure to share information about your family’s eye health history. Regular eye exams are an essential part of maintaining good overall health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/30/2020.
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