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How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?

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Male optometrist completing eye exam on child patient in clinic

A yearly eye exam allows your eye doctor to test your eyesight, update your prescription, fit you for contacts or glasses and check for diseases and health problems.

An eye exam also gives you the chance to communicate with your eye doctor about your vision and gives you time to ask any questions or concerns you may have. In addition, talking with your eye doctor gives you a chance to talk about any symptoms you may be having, providing critical insights into your eye health.

But how long do eye exam appointments take? The answer is, it depends on what type of eye exam you’re getting and your individual health needs. Keep reading to learn how each of these factors impacts the length of time it takes to complete your eye exam.

Types of Eye Exams

There are several types of eye exams depending on your visual health needs. Some common types of eye examinations are:

  • Contact lens exams
  • Comprehensive eye exams
  • Computer vision syndrome exams
  • Digital retina exams

Comprehensive Eye Exams

These are the “regular” checkups that you probably think of when you hear the words “eye exam.” During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will:

  • Consult your medical history and records to assess your current and future eye health 
  • Evaluate your current visual needs
  • Assess your complete optical system
  • Test your eyes for diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy 
  • At the end of your exam, your eye doctor will discuss your eye health concerns. They will discuss treatment options with you as well. 

Contact Lens Exams

If you wear or want contacts, you need a contact lens exam in addition to a comprehensive eye exam. During a contact lens exam, your eye doctor will:

  • Perform tests to evaluate your vision with contacts.
  • Evaluate your film tear to make sure you have enough tears to wear contacts comfortably
  • Provide you with a contact lens prescription, which is different than your eyeglasses prescription
  • Fit you with a trial pair of contacts to wear for a few days. In a week, you’ll need a follow-up exam to make sure you have adjusted to your new lenses 
Happy young woman discussing her options with her optometrist during eye exam

What to Expect During an Eye Exam

Before Your Eye Exam

Before seeing an eye doctor, there are many things you can do to prepare. Tips and tricks for making sure your eye exam runs smoothly include:

  • Consult with your insurance provider to see what portion of your eye care expenses are covered, so you know what to expect
  • Bring your contact lenses, contact lens case & eyeglasses
  • Bring a list of past/current prescriptions or medications
  • Try your best to gather as much as you can about your family medical history before your eye exam
  • Be prepared to discuss your vision needs, questions and concerns

During Your Eye Exam

During an eye exam, your doctor will do the following: 

  • Consult your medical history and records to assess your current and future eye health 
  • Evaluate your current visual needs
  • Assess your complete optical system
  • Test your eyes for diseases such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and diabetic retinopathy 
  • At the end of your exam, your eye doctor will discuss your eye health concerns. They will discuss treatment options with you as well. 

After Your Eye Exam

After an eye exam, you may experience symptoms, especially if you have had your eyes dilated. These symptoms may include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

To protect your eyes after an eye dilation, you can:

  • Avoid driving, reading or looking at screens
  • Wear sunglasses

How Long Does an Eye Exam Take? 

Most eye exams last between 30 minutes to an hour depending on what kind of tests your optometrist will need to perform. Factors that affect the length of your eye care appointment include:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Your medical history
  • Your symptoms

Standard eye examination tests for a comprehensive eye exam include:

  • Vision test
  • Pupil test
  • Eye movement test
  • Eye pressure test
  • Slit-lamp exam
  • Dilated pupillary exam

During a contact lens exam, your eye doctor will perform additional tests such as a corneal topography or a tear film evaluation to ensure your contacts are a good fit. 

The Takeaway

Knowing how long an eye appointment takes can help you save time by preparing correctly beforehand.

If you have time constraints, it is best to book your exam on your day off, just in case your eye exam takes longer than usual.

If you’re concerned about how long your eye exam will take, contact us today! We’re happy to help you find an appointment slot that best fits your schedule.

Written by Dr. David Nota

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