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Eye Exams

Regular eye exams are an important part of good eye care. Many serious eye disorders have few or no symptoms, including conditions related to the retina and optic nerve. With a routine eye exam, your optometrist can diagnose these as well as the common refractive errors of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. During your routine eye exam you may have one or several of the tests shown below.

Virginia Mason Franciscan Health offers eye exams in five western Washington locations: Federal Way, Issaquah, Kirkland, Lynnwood and Seattle. Learn more about Virginia Mason Franciscan Health's optometrists or find information for scheduling an appointment.


Common eye exams

  • Visual acuity test
    This common eye test assesses your reading and distance vision with the use of eye charts. Blurry vision is a common sign in many eye disorders and is quickly seen during this exam.
  • Visual field test
    This simple test is performed to determine if any changes have occurred in your peripheral (side) vision, which is a common sign in glaucoma. A basic form of this test can be done by your doctor or technician. A more sensitive test is done with a device known as an automated perimeter.
  • Tonometry
    A procedure in which eye pressure is measured using one of several different methods. This is a very important test that is done during a routine eye exam.
  • Refraction exam
    This common test uses a machine called a phoropter that allows your doctor to determine the amount of refractive error (eyeglasses prescription). It determines whether you are farsighted (hyperopic) nearsighted (myopic) or have astigmatism.
  • Dilation of pupils
    During this procedure your pupils are dilated or enlarged with eye drops so that your ophthalmologist or optometrist can better view the internal eye structures. Typically the dilation last four to six hours and you may be light sensitive or find it difficult to read during this period.
  • Slit-lamp Exam
    A slit lamp is a type of microscope that is typically used to exam the anterior segment of the eye. It allows your eye-care practitioner to examine structures such as the eyelids, cornea and iris in great detail. If your eyes have been dilated your doctor, with the addition of a specialized lens, may also use the slit-lamp to view structures inside the eye.
  • Potential acuity test
    If it is uncertain to your eye surgeon what your best vision will be after cataract surgery, your acuity can be estimated using a Potential Acuity Meter.
    This is generally used in cases of eye disease or trauma, when the surgeon is unable to obtain an adequate view of the retina because of a dense cataract. 
  • Ocular coherence tomography (OCT)
    An eye test called ocular coherence tomography (OCT) provides 3D imaging of your retina. This test gives your eye doctor a real-time view of the multiple layers of the retina.
  • Keratometry
    This procedure can be performed with either a manual or computerized device and measures the curvatures of your cornea. This information can help your eye care professional fit contacts or diagnose certain corneal diseases.