Aging & Health A to Z
Diagnosis & Tests
Your eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) will ask you some questions about your symptoms, such as:
- How long have you noticed symptoms? Do they come and go or are they always there?
- Do you experience vision problems in bright light?
- How severe are your symptoms? Do they make it harder to drive, read, or do your job?
- Have you ever had an eye injury or eye surgery?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with an eye problem, such as iritis (inflammation of the iris)?
- Have you ever received radiation therapy to your head or neck?
- What medications are you taking now?
The eye doctor will then examine your eye, using specific tests. The more common ones include:
- Visual acuity test. This uses a standard eye chart with rows of different-sized letters to check how well you see at various distances. Normal visual acuity is rated 20/20.
- Slit-lamp exam. This test uses a special microscope with an intense line of light to light up the front parts of your eye—the cornea, iris, lens, and the spaces in between.
- Dilated eye exam. In this test, your eye doctor puts drops in your eyes to make the pupils dilate (get larger). Your retina and optic nerve can then be examined with the slit-lamp or a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope. Your vision may be blurry for a few hours after the test.
- Tonometry. Pressure inside the eye is checked with this test, after numbing drops are placed in the eye.
Updated: November 2016
Posted: March 2012