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How Long Does an Eye Exam Take?

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Young woman undergoing eye exam by her optometrist.

If you have an upcoming eye exam or haven’t had an eye exam in a while, you may be wondering how long an eye exam takes. It’s nice to gauge how long an appointment with your eye doctor will take so you can plan your schedule accordingly. 

How long an eye exam takes really depends on what type of eye exam you’re getting. If you suffer from any eye conditions or have additional questions about your vision, eye exams can take longer than you may expect. So how do you know how much time to carve out of your day for an appointment? 

Keep reading to learn how each of these factors impacts how long your eye exam could take. 

Why Do You Need to Have an Eye Exam?

Regular eye exams are a great way to ensure that your vision health is taken care of. When you receive an eye exam, your eye doctor will perform a series of tests to assess your eyesight and eye health as well as check for diseases and other health problems.

Depending on your needs and the type of eye exam you’re getting, your doctor also may:

  • Update your prescription
  • Fit you for contacts
  • Refer you to a specialist
  • Offer treatment recommendations 

An eye exam also gives you the chance to communicate with your eye doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing and gives you time to ask any questions or concerns you may have. 

Without an eye exam, you can miss warning signs of future eye conditions and diseases. Many eye diseases develop slowly over time, and you may not notice any symptoms in the early stages. If you don’t get regular eye exams, your health can suffer. 

When to Have an Eye Exam

Several factors can determine how frequently you need an eye exam, including your age, health, and risk of developing eye problems. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends the following: 

  • Infants, Toddlers & Preschoolers: A child’s first eye examination should occur before they are 3.
  • School-aged Children & Adolescents: When children enter kindergarten, they should begin to see their eye doctor every 2 years. 
  • Adults: If you are healthy and have no signs or symptoms of vision problems, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends having an eye exam annually.

There may be circumstances when your eye doctor recommends more frequent eye exams. For example, you may need to have your eyes checked more often if you:

What is an Eye Exam?

Comprehensive eye exams are the “normal” checkups that cover your general eye health. These are the types of exams that you need to receive regularly according to the guidelines set by the AAO. During a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will:

Other Types of Eye Exams

If you are young, need vision correction, or have a specific condition that your eye doctor wants to examine more thoroughly, you may need additional eye exams.

Some common types of eye examinations other than comprehensive eye exams include:

  • Contact lens exams
  • Children’s eye exams 
  • Digital retina exams
  • Diabetic eye exams 
Young man having chin on examination machine while his optometrist check health of eye.

How Long Does an Eye Exam Take? 

A typical comprehensive eye exam lasts between 30 minutes to an hour. However, the time it takes for an eye exam depends on what kind of tests your optometrist will need to perform. 

Some of the eye and vision tests that you may encounter during a comprehensive eye exam include:

  • Visual acuity tests
  • Color blindness tests
  • Cover tests
  • Eye movement tests
  • Eye pressure tests
  • Slit-lamp exam
  • Dilated pupillary exam
  • Stereopsis tests
  • Retinoscopy tests
  • Refraction tests

In addition to the types of tests your eye doctor performs, there are some other factors that can affect the length of your eye care appointment. These include you:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Medical history
  • Symptoms and risk factors

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

Eye exams are crucial for ensuring that your eyes are healthy and that your whole body stays healthy. The only way to make sure your visual system is looked after properly is by receiving regular eye exams.

If you have any questions or concerns about eye exams, contact us today!

Written by Daniel Rowan

Reno optometrist, Dr. Daniel Rowan, was raised in Western Canada and attended Norwich University in Vermont on a hockey scholarship. After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in both biology and sports medicine, he received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New York College of Optometry in 2001. He performed rotations in a Queens VA hospital, specializing in glaucoma care, and an outpatient eye clinic in the Bronx. Immediately after graduating, he moved to Nevada and is now considered a top Reno optometrist. He is a member of the American Optometric Association and is board-certified by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry for the treatment and management of ocular diseases.
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