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How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?

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A bearded man in a blue shirt having an eye exam.

Eye exams play an important role when it comes to maintaining your eye health—but they aren’t just for an eye care professional to check your prescription. Eye exams also give us a chance to detect vision problems, eye diseases, and some health conditions as well.

It’s essential to regularly schedule eye exams—especially for children and those with diabetes. Generally, an eye exam takes between 30 minutes to 1 hour, but the exact time can depend on whether or not your optometrist needs to do additional testing, such as when they’re concerned about specific eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration.

How to Prepare for an Eye Exam

Before you go in for your eye exam, there are a few things you should remember. It can help to make a list so you don’t forget anything!

First, you should bring your current eyeglasses and contact lenses along with you. This way, we can check if your prescription has changed since your last exam. It’s also important to bring a list of any medications you’re currently taking, as some medications can affect your vision.

You should also think about any vision or eye problems you’ve been experiencing lately. They could include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Pressure in your eye
  • Eye strain
  • Any other kind of eye discomfort or pain

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, be sure to mention them to us during your exam. We’ll make a point to check and see what may be causing these symptoms. Don’t forget, we’re here to help!

What to Expect from a Comprehensive Eye Exam at Southwood Eyecare

During an eye exam, we’ll perform a series of tests to assess your vision and overall eye health. They’re all designed to check different parts of your eyes, along with how well your vision works.

The tests we provide during an eye exam include:

  • Visual acuity test, where an eye chart is used to measure how well you see at different distances
  • Refraction test, where a machine with different lenses is used to find the right prescription for each of your eyes
  • A colour vision test to see how well you distinguish the difference between colours
  • A cover test to determine how well your eyes work together
  • Checking how well your eyes can follow a moving object
  • A depth perception test
  • Retinoscopy, where a light is shone into the eye to see how it reflects off the back of the eye
  • Optomap imaging to examine your retina
  • Tonometry to test your eye pressure
  • An evaluation of the eye’s surface that allows us to determine the health of your eye

Don’t worry if that seems like a lot—each test is designed to be quick and painless. For some tests, we may need to dilate your pupils. The good news is that dilation is a temporary effect, and it typically goes away within a few hours—it just helps us get a better look at your retina and optic nerve.

This process usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. For those who need a wide range of testing or have several questions about their eye health, the full time it takes for an exam may be more than an hour. 

How Often Should I Schedule an Eye Exam?

For adults without existing vision issues, it’s generally recommended to schedule an eye exam every 2 years or so. When you reach around the age of 60, you should go a little more often—about once a year or so. If you have any existing eye conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or presbyopia, you should go more often to monitor your eye health. 

A young boy having an eye exam while sitting on his mother's lap.

It becomes a little more complicated for children since their eyes are growing and changing. Usually, there are a few guidelines to help:

  • Children’s first eye exams should happen around the age of 6–9 months
  • Kids should return between the ages of 3 and 5 for a follow-up exam
  • Kids should receive regular children’s eye exams once a year until they’re about 19

Annual exams can help you monitor your child’s vision—and it lets us spot any changes that may be developing so we can address potential problems early!

If you have a family history of eye diseases, you should think about going a little more often. And don’t forget that you can always ask us during your visit when you should schedule your next appointment!

The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

The importance of regular eye exams can’t be overstated. It gives our team a chance to detect vision problems or eye conditions early and begin treatment sooner rather than later. Many conditions cause irreversible vision loss, but that can be avoided with early detection and treatment.

Don’t forget about your kids, too. A lot of children’s learning is vision-based, so it’s crucial to regularly schedule children’s eye exams with your optometrist. Clear, healthy vision can help your child succeed at school and enjoy life.

Schedule Your Next Eye Exam with Southwood Eyecare

If you think it’s time to schedule your next eye exam, come visit us at Southwood Eyecare. Our team is here to help, and we can walk you through the process of getting an eye exam for kids and adults. Why wait? Book an appointment with us today!

Written by Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery

Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Manitoba and later completed the Doctor of Optometry program at Illinois College of Optometry graduating with Magna Cum Laude honours. Dr. Chaudhery is also a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society and the Tomb and Key Honor Fraternity. She has experience with pediatric eye exams, ocular disease, specialty contact lenses, and vision therapy. During her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton and spending time with her husband and kids.
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