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What Does a Comprehensive Eye Exam Entail?

Comprehensive Eye Exam

Only a comprehensive eye exam by a skilled optometrist can ensure that you’re free of vision problems and potentially serious eye diseases. Regular vision exams play a key role in preventive eye care.

An eye care specialist can detect eye problems that can have subtle symptoms you might not notice. If your provider detects something amiss, early diagnosis and treatment can help keep your eyes healthy and reduce the risk of complications, such as vision loss.

Vision screening versus comprehensive eye exam

A vision screening is a short exam that can pick up the presence of a vision problem. This type of exam cannot, however, pinpoint the exact issue with your eyes. Instead, it can indicate whether you need a comprehensive eye exam. A vision screening is not a substitute for a comprehensive eye exam.

What does a comprehensive eye exam involve?

When you visit Valley Eye Professionals for a comprehensive eye exam, you can expect the evaluation to last between 30 and 60 minutes. The exam generally consists of five components.

Vision background

A vision background provides information about your eye health history. For example, any eye surgeries or injuries, eye diseases, and the date of your last examination supply relevant information. Your provider may ask about eye diseases that your family members have had and whether you’re currently experiencing any problems with your vision.

A general health history may indicate issues that can impact your vision. For instance, long-standing diabetes can affect your eye health. Prepare to discuss any medications you’re taking and answer questions about your lifestyle, such as whether you smoke.

Eye evaluation

Checking your eye health involves taking a look at the external parts of each eye, measuring the fluid pressure inside your eyes, and looking inside your eye to examine your retina and optic nerve. Tonometry, or measuring the pressure inside your eye, can pick up problems like glaucoma, a serious eye disease that causes increased fluid pressure.

Your provider may use eye drops or special lenses to view the inside of each eye. The doctor also looks at the whites of your eyes, as well as your iris, pupils, and eyelids.

Visual acuity exam

Visual acuity refers to the sharpness of your vision. This can tell the doctor how clearly you see through each eye, up close and at a distance. During the exam, you read letters on charts. Different lenses are used to determine if corrective lenses can improve your vision.

Visual field test

Your peripheral vision allows you to see to the side while looking straight ahead. A comprehensive vision exam checks this side vision to determine how much surrounding area you can see.

The most common visual field test involves the doctor flashing several fingers above and below your field of vision as well as to either side. Your provider may choose to use a special computerized visual field analyzer to get a more precise measurement of your peripheral vision.


A retinoscopy is a fast and reliable exam that assesses the refractive error of each eye and your need for eyeglasses. This test helps your doctor determine the prescription for eyeglasses. It involves shining a light in each eye using an instrument called a retinoscope while the doctor analyzes the reflex of your eye.

Putting it all together

Your eye exam results give your doctor an overall understanding of your eye health. If you’re having issues, the exam provides insight into whether you’re experiencing normal age-related eye changes or something more serious. Following your exam, your optometrist can discuss any further testing or treatment you may need.

Through comprehensive exams, the specialists at Valley Eye Professionals can detect eye problems at the earliest stages when they’re most treatable. To schedule your next exam, call our office in Los Angeles, California, or book your request online.

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