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Understanding Your Eye Exam

You use your eyes every waking moment of every day.  But you may not think much about them, until something is off. It can be alarming, even scary, to experience sudden discomfort or changes to your vision. When that happens, you’ll likely be dialing for your eye doctor ASAP. Even when nothing noticeably changes, it’s a good practice to get an annual eye exam. Like every other part of your body, your eyes need regular check-ups to proactively look for issues and to make sure your eyeglasses prescription is up to date.

When you visit the optometrist, you’ll get an exam so your doctor can assess your vision. An exceptional vision exam requires both precision and professional guidance. Both are extremely important in getting the most beneficial result from your exam. Here are a few of the characteristics of a standard eye exam.


Your interaction with the doctor will begin with questions about your visual history, and what your lifestyle is like, whether your daily routine includes manual labor or other physical activity, going to school, staring at a computer etc.

Your optometrist will also ask you if anything specific is bringing you in for an exam, whether it be changes to your vision, eye strain, pain, or anything “off” that can be related to your eyes or vision. Answering these questions to the best of your ability will help your doctor make the best decisions with regard to your vision. Your doctor is committed to helping you find the best prescription and the best solution to any eye troubles you may have. So be honest! If you are getting headaches, or you find yourself taking off your glasses to read these days, say so. These little details will help your doctor to help you.

Visual Acuity and Muscle Behavior

An exam you may take with an optometrist, at the DMV or with the school nurse is known as the vision acuity test. Officially this is called a Snellen chart. This is the standard eye test we all know and love, where you’re asked to cover one eye and read usually the smallest row of letters that you can. This is a basic test to find out how clearly you can see.

The doctor will also perform a test on your eye muscles to assess coordination. This part of the exam involves a pen or a light that the doctor will move back and forth in front of you. While your eyes follow the designated object, the doctor will evaluate the coordination of your eye muscles to identify any problems.

The Refraction Assessment

While every vision center has their own process, all exams at 10/10 Optics will start off with an Auto Refractor. This is a machine that helps your doctor to objectively measure the prescription that will best suit your vision needs and ultimately help you see clearly! An “Autorefractor”, “Automated Refractor” or “Auto Refractor” are different terms for the same machine which is controlled by a computer that your doctor will be operating during your exam. It allows your doctor to see how exactly how light changes as it enters your eyes.

Next, your doctor will use a digital Nidek 5100, which is a sophisticated computerized machine that can intelligently refract to singular degrees with laser-like precision. This machine is essentially a more fine-tuned auto refractor, and helps to finalize the prescription that you need. While an auto refactor can be manual or digital, but as technology improves more doctors are opting for the precision of digital equipment

You’ve probably had some experience with this machine or seen it used in TV or movie depictions of optometrist offices. This is the part of the exam where a patient will be asked “Which is more clear, 1 or 2?”. The auto refactor is the machine you’ll be looking into that lights up with images inside. Your doctor will change these images, trying different combinations to determine your best script.

When you’re being asked “Which is more clear, 1 or 2?” this is your doctor asking you to compare the scripts he thinks may be right for you, to see which is most comfortable and to determine which prescription will work to make your vision crystal clear.

Additional Exams

An optometrist may also perform a test called a slit-lamp examination. Using a microscope to illuminate and magnify the front of your eye with a line of light, your doctor can examine your cornea, iris, lens, lashes, eyelids and the fluid chamber between your cornea and iris. This may include a fluorescein dye to color the film of tears over your eye. This process looks for any damaged cells at the front of your eye. The dye won’t last though, your natural tears quickly wash it from the surface of your eye.

Your Prescription

After your doctor performs these tests they will use their expertise, and your experience, to formulate an individualized and nuanced prescription in detailed fractional measurements. Your comfort and ability to process visual information will be carefully considered and then your doctor will provide you with a prescription that will give the clearest possible eyesight.

Relatively quick, immeasurably beneficial, and completely non-invasive, vision exams are an important part of protecting your overall health, and will ensure you’re living your life with the most clarity (pun intended) and ease possible. Again, it is recommended that everyone has an eye exam annually. Even if you don’t feel you need one, vision exams can detect health issues before they become advanced enough to start showing symptoms that could interfere with your life. You’ll also find that even though it’s only been a year, small changes to your prescription can dramatically improve how well you’re seeing every day.
Schedule your vision exam today, we can’t wait to see you!