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Kent Association for the Blind

Images of glasses on a diary with an eye test reminder, two men with a magnifier and two women talking over paperwork

An eye examination is carried out by an optometrist and usually takes about 30 - 40 minutes. It may take longer if additional tests are required.

It will normally include the following elements:


Why are you having your eyes examined? Is it a routine check-up or have you come for a specific reason such as Visual Display Unit (like a computer) screening?

If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision your practitioner needs to know what symptoms you have, how long you have had them and whether any changes have happened, suddenly or slowly over a period of time.

Many people when they've been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration think, "OK, that's it; there's no point any more in having an eye check". However, it's still very important to have eye examinations because you have to look after the rest of your vision. For example, you need to make sure you don't also show symptoms of Glaucoma.


Your optometrist will need to know about your general health including if you are taking any medication, whether you suffer from headaches, currently wear spectacles or contact lenses, or have any close relatives with a history of eye problems.

Additional information, which will help your practitioner to make an accurate assessment, includes your occupation, diet, whether you play sports or have any hobbies.

Examining the Eye

Your eyes will be examined both externally and internally. The examination is completely painless. This will enable an assessment to be made of the general health of your eyes and identify any other underlying medical problems.

Your vision will be measuredboth with and without spectacles or contact lenses in front of the eyes to check for any problems with your eyesight.

You will also have an examination to measure the type and extent of any problem with your vision. You will then be asked to choose between different lenses to see which ones help the quality and clarity of your vision.

Eye movements & Coordination are checked to make sure that both eyes are working together, and that undue stress is not being placed on their muscles. Good muscle balance is particularly important for those who use computers or drive.

At the end of the examination your practitioner will have a detailed knowledge of the health of your eyes, the standard of your vision and any special requirements that you may have. This information will be explained to you but remember, if you don't understand anything or require more information please ask - your optometrist who will be only too pleased to help.

If, during the examination, the optometrist detects any changes in your eyes that require further investigation, a letter will be sent to your GP to refer you to an ophthalmic consultant. Alternatively, a direct referral to the hospital eye clinic may be made. You should be notified of your appointment date within a few weeks.

After the examination you will be told when you should next come for an examination.

What should you do if glasses are recommended?

At the end of the sight test you may be given a prescription for glasses (or contact lenses). Be sure you understand why you need spectacles and when they should be worn.

If you are a carer supporting someone else you can ask the optician to make a note of these details to be kept on the person's file.

Don't feel obliged to purchase glasses in the same practice as you have been tested, especially if the prices are high or if you can't find a frame you like. You can take the prescription to any dispensing optician to have spectacles made.

If you are not satisfied with your spectacles or contact lenses make sure that you contact your practice so that the matter can be dealt with promptly. There may be a small fee charged for this service. As part of continuing care and service your optometrist will be happy to adjust or make minor repairs to your spectacles where possible. Your spectacles can work loose with wear and accidents do happen!

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