Going on your first eye examination

The first step

You have scheduled yourself for a first-time eye examination with an eye doctor. Some questions may linger in your mind. What goes on during an eye examination? Are the eye tests going to hurt? Hold up! An eye examination can a fun experience for many to learn more about the eyes. This article will shed some light on what goes on during an eye examination.

What are eye tests?

Despite an eye being relatively small-sized, there are hundreds of diagnostic tests that can be performed to gain a better understanding of the eye’s structure and function. Below are some of the commonly performed tests:

  • Visual acuity test
  • Tonometry (Eye pressure test)
  • Manifest refraction
  • Pupil dilation
  • Schirmer’s test (for dry eye)
  • Retinal photography

Visual acuity test

Visual acuity is an entry test to ascertain how well you can see. You will be asked to read down a chart of random alphabets. During this test, do not squint your eyes. Relax your eyes as much as possible so result will be most accurate.

Tonometry (Eye pressure test)

A machine puffs a small burst of air into your eye. The air bounces back to the machines to give a reading, which measures the fluid pressure inside the eye. A normal reading is 10 millimeters mercury (mmHg) to 21mmHg. An elevated eye pressure may indicate the possibility of glaucoma, a potentially blinding eye condition if left undetected or untreated.

Fun fact: Our eye pressure fluctuates throughout the day, with it being the highest usually in the morning.

Manifest refraction

This test is conducted by an optometrist using powered lenses to measure the amount of short-sightedness, long-sightedness, astigmatism or presbyopia you may have.

Pupil dilation

Eyedrops are instilled on the eyes to dilate the pupils, which are openings in the eyes, that change in size to control the amount of light that enters, depending on the level of light in the environment. When the pupil is dilated, your eye doctor can have a more thorough view of the peripheral retina. This is especially important for people with high myopia, who are at a higher risk of getting retinal tear and/or retinal detachment, which occurs at the peripheral retina. Retinal tears and especially retinal detachments are considered medical emergencies. If a detached retina is not reattached within 48 hours, it can lead to permanent vision loss.

Fun fact: The near vision will be blurry after pupil dilation. The effect will wear off in 4 to 6 hours.

Schirmer’s test (Dry eye test)

Schirmer’s test measures the amount of tears you produce in 5 minutes. Prior to the test, numbing eyedrops will be instilled on the eyes to minimise discomfort during the test, so we can get an accurate measurement. A blotting strip of paper will be placed at the outer corner of your eyes. You will be asked to keep your eyes closed for 5 minutes. A result of less than 10mm of the strip soaked by your tears is indicative of dry eye.

Retinal photography

The retina is like the ‘film’ in a camera. What we see needs to be cast on this ‘film’, and thereafter be sent to the brain for processing. There are plenty of blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina. Structures like the start of the optic nerve (nerve that connects the eye to the brain) and the macula (central part of the retina) can also be seen on the retina. Taking a retinal photo is akin to taking a normal photo; it takes just a second and there will be a flash.

Fun fact: A retinal photo can reveal quite a lot about your general health.

Going for your first eye examination at Atlas Eye

At Atlas Eye, we can customise tests based on the eye concerns you have on the day of the examination.

People with different eye concerns like dry eye, glaucoma, cataract, age-related macular degeneration, or sudden blurring of vision, all go through different tests for the eye doctor to reach a diagnosis.

If you do not have any specific concerns, we generally will test your visual acuity and eye pressure and perform a refraction test to ascertain if you have any short/long-sightedness or astigmatism. Lastly, we will take a retinal photo. If you wish to have a more thorough eye examination, you may request for pupil dilation for the eye doctor to check the back of your eyes.

The eye may only be a tiny part of our body, but it plays a big role in our life. We see the world through our eyes. Hence, it is of utmost important to ensure they function well and are free of diseases.

Should you wish to schedule an eye examination with us, please contact us at +65 67379119 or atlaseye@atlaseye.sg.

Doctor Checking the Eyes of a Woman