What to Expect During a Routine Eye Exam, Including Common Tests and Procedures

Regular eye exams are important for maintaining good eye health and detecting any potential problems early on. During a routine eye exam, we will perform a variety of tests and procedures to assess the health and functionality of your eyes. In this article, we will discuss what to expect during a routine eye exam, including common tests and procedures.

What to Expect During a Routine Eye Exam, Including Common Tests and Procedures in Olympia

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

Before we dive into the details of a routine eye exam, it's important to understand why regular eye exams are so crucial. Eye exams not only check for changes in vision but also for underlying eye conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. These conditions may not have any noticeable symptoms in their early stages, making early detection through routine eye exams critical for prevention and early treatment.

Initial Assessment

The first step in a routine eye exam is an initial assessment, where we will ask you about your eye health history, medical history and any current eye problems or concerns. We may also ask about any medications you are taking and whether you have a family history of eye diseases.

Visual Acuity Test

One of the most well-known tests during a routine eye exam is the visual acuity test. This test measures your ability to see objects at a distance and up close using a Snellen eye chart. The eye chart contains letters of varying sizes, and you will be asked to read them out loud while covering one eye at a time. This test helps determine whether you need corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses.

Refraction Assessment

If you require corrective lenses, we will perform a refraction test to determine the optimal lens prescription needed. During this test, we will ask you to look through a device called a phoropter while they change the lenses until they find the combination that provides you with the sharpest and clearest vision.

Eye Movement and Alignment Tests

Eye movement and alignment tests are performed to assess how well your eyes work together, also known as binocular vision. We will ask you to follow a moving object with your eyes, and we will also check for any abnormalities in eye movement or alignment, which could indicate underlying eye conditions.

Intraocular Pressure (IOP) Test

An eye pressure test, also known as tonometry, measures the pressure inside your eye. High eye pressure can be a sign of glaucoma, a condition that can cause vision loss if left untreated. During the test, we will use a device that emits a small puff of air onto your eye to measure the pressure.

Retinal Examination

The retina is the part of the eye that senses light and sends images to the brain. A retinal examination involves dilating your pupils with eye drops so we can examine the retina and optic nerve using ophthalmoscopy. This test can detect a range of eye conditions, including macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Color Vision Test

A color vision test, such as the Ishihara test, may be conducted to assess whether you have difficulty distinguishing between colors. This test is particularly important for individuals who work in jobs that require color recognition, such as pilots, electricians, or painters.

Visual Field Test

A visual field test, also known as a perimetry test, checks your peripheral vision, which is your ability to see objects to the side while looking straight ahead. This test can detect any blind spots or areas of vision loss that may be indicative of glaucoma or other eye conditions.

Slit-Lamp Examination

A slit-lamp examination uses biomicroscopy, a special microscope, to examine the front and back of the eye. This test can help detect various eye conditions such as cataracts, corneal ulcers, or retinal detachment.

Pupil Dilation

In addition to a retinal examination, we may also use pupil dilation to examine the inside of your eye. Dilating your pupils involves using special eye drops to enlarge your pupils, allowing our eye doctor to get a better view of the retina and optic nerve.

How can I find an eye doctor near me?

How can I find an eye doctor near me?

If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist or you live too far from our optometry clinic in Olympia, you could start your online search by typing in phrases such as "eye doctor near me," "optometrist near me," or "eye specialist near me."

Common Questions

Common eye tests include visual acuity testing, where you read letters or symbols from a chart at a set distance, and refraction testing, where our optometrist measures the way your eyes focus light. Other common tests include eye pressure measurement, color vision testing, and visual field testing.
A routine eye test conducted by our optometrist can detect a range of eye conditions and vision problems, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. It can also identify eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.
The length of a routine eye test can vary depending on the tests performed and the individual's specific needs. Generally, a comprehensive eye exam can take 30 minutes to an hour.
Before your eye exam, make sure to bring your current eyeglasses or contact lenses, a list of any medications you are taking, and your medical history. You may also want to bring a friend or family member to drive you home, as your eyes may be dilated during the exam.
During an eye exam, it is important to avoid wearing contact lenses, as they can interfere with some tests. You should also avoid wearing eye makeup, as it can affect the accuracy of the exam. It is also important to avoid looking directly at bright lights before the exam, as this can affect your vision. It is important to come to your appointment well rested as vision is impacted greatly by lack of food, sleep or high stress levels.
There is no specific time of day that is best for an eye exam. It is more important to schedule the exam at a time when you are well-rested and able to focus on the tests.
During a routine eye exam, our optometrist may touch your eye briefly to measure eye pressure or examine the inside of your eye using a specialized lens. However, the touch is usually minimal and should not be uncomfortable.
It is not necessary to get extra sleep before an eye exam, but it is important to be well-rested and alert during the exam. If you are feeling tired or fatigued, it may affect the accuracy of the test results.
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Take Action for Good Eye Health: Schedule a Routine Eye Exam Today

Routine eye exams are essential for maintaining good eye health and detecting any potential problems early on. During a routine eye exam, our optometrist will perform various tests and procedures to assess the health and functionality of your eyes. If you haven't had an eye exam in the last year, it's important to schedule one with our eye care professional. Don't wait until you notice symptoms or changes in your vision to get your eyes checked. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to maintaining good eye health. To schedule an eye exam, please call us at (360) 491-2121. Our optometry clinic serves patients from all over Washington, including those from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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