Eye Exams are More than A Prescription for Glasses

Oct 4, 2022

3 min read

Eye Exams are More than A Prescription for Glasses

Suburban Opticians has provided our South Sound patients with comprehensive eye exams for more than 50 years. And we want you to know that an eye exam is so much more than just a prescription for glasses.

We use a wide range of tests and procedures to examine your eyes. These tests not only help us better understand how well you can see, but we also check the overall health of the eye. You’re likely familiar with the Snellen Eye chart, which tests visual acuity, but we also perform exams that test your eye’s pressure and can even detect cancer and diabetes. Let’s talk more about what you can expect from an eye exam.

Visual Acuity

This test measures the sharpness of your vision using an eye chart projected onto the wall. Both eyes are tested together, and then we test each eye separately. Learn more about visual acuity in a recent blog post here.

Visual Field

This test measures a patient’s entire scope of vision and can indicate loss (if any) of peripheral vision. This test is used to help us detect signs of glaucoma damage on the optic nerve.

External Exam & Pupillary Reactions

Here we check the visible parts of your eye, looking at things such as the condition of the white of the eyes and the position of your eyelids. We also observe your pupils’ reactions to light and close objects.

Cover/Uncover Test

This test is used to detect strabismus, a condition in which the eyes do not properly align. For this test, you will focus on a small object that is in the distance. As you focus, we will cover either your right or left eye, and if the uncovered eye moves to focus, it may indicate an issue with alignment.


If your visual acuity test indicates you need glasses or contacts, we shine a light in your eyes and have you look at a large target while flipping lenses in a machine in front of your eyes. As we do this, we will observe how light reflects from your eyes. This helps us determine your prescription and is very useful for helping our nonverbal patients.


The refraction test helps us get your prescription exact. We fine-tune the prescription manually by flipping lenses used during the retinoscopy and asking you to identify which option helps you to see the clearest.

If you do not need vision correction you will not be given this test.

Slit Lamp

This test examines the health of your eyes. The slit lamp gives us a highly magnified view of the eye and lets us check for eye diseases and disorders by examining your cornea, iris, lens, and anterior chamber. This text helps diagnose macular degeneration, detached retinas, cataracts, injury to the cornea, or blockages to the retinal vessel.

This test can also indicate diabetes.


Glaucoma damages your eye’s optic nerve and usually occurs when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. This extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve.

To test and see if the pressure inside your eyes is within normal range, we start by numbing your eyes with drops. You then stare directly ahead, and our technicians ever so gently touch the front surface of the eye with a tonometer or Tonopen, which measures the pressure. It’s a quick and painless exam that is very helpful!

Retinal Exam

A retinal examination is when the doctor examines the back of your eyes: retina, retinal blood vessels, vitreous, and optic nerve head.

Eye Dilation

Eye dilation is necessary to perform a retinal examination. Pupil dilation enlarges the pupil and lets us get a better view of your eye’s internal structures. Dilating drops are placed in the eye, after which it takes 15-30 minutes for the eyes to dilate fully.

While your eyes are dilated, doctors can also detect evidence of diabetes.

It takes about 4-6 hours for your eyes to get back to normal, and while your eyes are dilated, you will temporarily be more sensitive to light, and your vision will be blurred. Because they last for so long, be sure to bring a pair of sunglasses for the ride home.


This one’s not quite routine, but if you have, or might have glaucoma or corneal disorders this test uses ultrasound to measure corneal thickness.

As you can see, we accomplish a great deal! Patients should expect their eye exam to take an hour to an hour and a half. If you need a prescription for glasses, you will leave with one. You can shop for glasses at our in-house retail store.

We can also offer contact lens fittings, which need to be done separately.

We are excited to learn more about your vision needs. Contact us today to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.

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