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How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?

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A female optometrist examining the eyes of a young woman using a medical device to detect potential eye problems

Most of us lead busy lives. But that shouldn’t affect how we take care of our bodies, including our eyes. Knowing what to expect for different appointments can make scheduling our day much easier.

A comprehensive eye exam up to 60 min or more at times. But the appointment could be longer or shorter depending on various factors, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below. Your eye doctor’s team is best suited to give you an accurate time frame if there’s an issue fitting an appointment into your schedule. They should be able to give you a reasonable estimated appointment length when you call to book it.

Importance of an Eye Exam

It’s worth looking a little closer at what an eye exam is and why they’re important to fully understand why there is such a significant variance in how long an eye exam can take. Many people might assume that an eye exam is to make sure you can see clearly and get a new pair of glasses if needed.

And while your optometrist will likely check how clearly you can see at every comprehensive eye examination, this isn’t necessarily their primary concern. Many eye conditions or eye diseases can develop slowly with little to no symptoms. And sometimes, by the time symptoms show up, the vision loss cannot be recovered.

Getting eye exams on the recommended schedule gives you the best chance of preventing or catching problems early. If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, your optometrist may spend more time with you to do more in-depth testing than usual. 

Eye Exam Frequency

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for how often a person should see their eye doctor. While age and overall eye health are important considerations, the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) recommends an eye examination every 1 to 2 years for healthy adults.

It’s important to remember that this is only a recommendation, and your eye doctor may suggest a more frequent schedule based on your particular situation.

How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?

There is a significant spread of time up to 60 min. Your appointment will likely be shorter if your eyes are generally in good health and you see your optometrist regularly. But if you have other conditions that can affect your eyes, such as an underlying health condition like diabetes, your optometrist can give you a better idea of how long your appointment will take.

What Does the Eye Doctor Check During an Eye Exam?

A comprehensive eye exam is more than just ensuring your vision is crisp and clear. Your optometrist will typically ask some questions and do several tests.

Family & Personal History

A significant portion of the beginning of your appointment is spent on reviewing your personal and family health history, especially before your first exam. Your eye doctor will likely ask you questions about any history of eye disease or conditions, current medications you’re taking, and general questions about your overall eye health.

Visual Acuity

You’ve probably heard of 20/20 vision. This is a measurement of your visual acuity, which is how well you can see at a distance of 20 feet. Testing your visual acuity can give your doctor a better picture of your eyesight and determine if you have a refractive error.

Overall Eye Health

During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will typically check for signs of eye diseases or conditions, such as glaucoma, retinal tears, or dry eye syndrome.

Your eye doctor may even detect systemic diseases like diabetes or cancer during a comprehensive exam because of how these conditions affect your eyes or surrounding tissue.

Common Tests During an Eye Exam

Your eye doctor won’t necessarily perform every test at their disposal during each eye examination. Your previous appointments or vision concerns may direct their choice of tests. But some common tests include:

  • Visual acuity
  • Visual field
  • Colour vision
  • Corneal topography
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Tonometry
  • Slit-lamp exam
  • Fundus photography
A woman in an optometrist's office shaking hands with her optometrist

Book Your Next Eye Exam

It’s unlikely that every eye exam you get will be the same length. For example, your initial appointment with a new optometrist will likely be longer because of additional questions and testing the eye doctor may want to perform. Even if you’re afraid your eye exam will take a while because it’s been a few years since you last had your eyes checked, don’t put it off. Give us a call at Milton Eye and Vision Care to book an appointment, and our team can answer your questions and get you in at a time that’s most convenient for you.

Written by Dr. Ronald Nicholas Strohan

Dr. Strohan has been an integrative optometrist in the Milton, Ontario area for over 40 years and has always stayed true to his philosophy of focusing on excellent patient eye care. He has studied behavioural optometry for more than 4 decades and is passionate about providing clear vision for patients of all ages. He takes pride in offering the latest eye care products and advancements in vision therapy.
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