Comprehensive Eye Examinations

Comprehensive Eye Examinations

When you see your optometrist you are taking a very important step towards ensuring a lifetime of clear and comfortable vision. It is important to understand that while you may feel that your vision is satisfactory, without a proper eye examination, a number of sight-threatening conditions might develop unchecked. Without early treatment many of these disorders can progressively destroy your sight and blindness can result, even if diagnosed at a later stage. According to the World Health Organisation 75% of blindness in the world is preventable.

When you consult an optometrist you should expect to have a comprehensive eye examination. This can take about 30-45minutes, as there is a lot to cover. If your eye history is available, some of this information may already be recorded and does not need to be repeated.

Key Elements of the Process in no particular order;

  • Questions about the reason for your visit, state of vision, medical and family history
  • An assessment of visual functions including any refractive error (prescription), near focussing ability, depth perception and eye dominance;
  • A slit-lamp microscopic assessment of your external eye;
  • An assessment of your internal eye health including lens, retina, nerve, and blood vessels
  • Tests of your eye muscles to check they move and coordinate properly ;
  • Visual fields test to check for blind spots caused by eye disease or brain damage (eg. stroke)
  • An assessment of pupil function and response
  • An assessment of your colour perception, which can change with some eye diseases
  • Examination to assess glaucoma including a measure of the pressure in each eye;
  • Discussion of the diagnosis, management options and plan for treatment ;
  • Recording all of above in your clinical record

As your optometrist is a health professional, you should expect to be asked about your age, the state of your general health and any medications you may be taking. This is because some health conditions and medications may have signs or side effects that involve the eyes. It is important to let your optometrist know about any relevant history, such as eye surgeries or treatments and family history of eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration.

In order to better assess the health of your eyes, the optometrist will need to use eye drops. These drops are safe and the concentrations used are very low. However, if you have had any reactions to eye drops before, please inform the optometrist.

  • Dilation drops make the pupil larger and stop it reacting to light, so that an unrestricted view of the inside of your eye can be achieved. It takes an additional 20-30 minutes for the drops to work. After dilation, your close-up vision may remain blurred and you will be more sensitive to light for several hours as the pupil slowly goes back to its normal size. It is advisable to bring sunglasses and not drive for at least 2 hours after these drops have been instilled into your eyes.
  • Anaesthetic drops are used to measure the pressure of your eyes and sometimes to facilitate the fitting of contact lenses. These only last for 10 minutes.
  • Coloured drops are used to highlight areas of damage, dryness or infection on the surface of your eye and lids or to assess the quality and volume of tears being produced.
  • Cyclo drops restrict the eyes from changing their focus and are used to confirm the prescription. These drops are usually applied when prescribing spectacles to children for the first time or when the vision and prescription changes often. They are very similar to dilation drops, so you may experience blurry vision and sensitivity to light for a few hours.

Prescribing Spectacles and Contact Lenses:

If you require spectacles or contact lenses, then you can expect that your optometrist will prescribe the most appropriate form of correction. Vision is a very complex human sense that involves both the eyes and the brain working together to interpret what we see. The complexity of vision is most apparent when the findings at examination specify an accurate correction for each eye and yet you may not feel comfortable when using these lenses. This can be overcome by making small adjustments to the correction. Your optometrist will record information about the final preferred correction, which becomes your dispensed prescription.

It is important to wear your new prescription full time as your brain learns to processes vision from a new perspective. This can take up to two weeks and is called spectacle adaptation. If you keep switching back to your old glasses, it will take longer for your visual perception to adjust.

While contact lenses are a wonderful alternative to spectacles, not all eyes can tolerate them. Based on the prescription, sensitivity and shape of your eyes; only a certain form of contact lens maybe suitable. Contact lenses are prescribed, just like spectacles, and you must have a valid prescription in order to buy them. Contact lenses must not be worn full-time as your eyes need an opportunity to breathe. For times when your eyes are feeling uncomfortable, sore, dry, red, if you have an eye infection or using medicated eye drops; you should not wear contact lenses and always have a pair of back-up spectacles. Click here for more info

Prescribing Eye Drops:

Optometrists are primary health care practitioners, regulated by government, under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003. For some conditions, optometrists will recommend treatment with medicines that you can buy over the counter from the practice or the pharmacy. The optometrists at Epsom Eyecare can also prescribe eye drops just like your doctor does for certain eye conditions, such as eye allergies, lid infections, conjunctivitis and inflammations (uveitis).

Additional Tests:


Driving licence certification (DL12): New Zealand Transport Agency required all drivers to pass a minimum vision standard to ensure the safety of all road users, including yourself. A drivers’ screening test is not an eye examination, as it only assesses your peripheral vision and best ability of your eyes with and without glasses or contact lenses. If you cannot pass without the aid of correcting lenses, your licence will have a condition which states that these must be worn at all times. The threshold varies for different classes of licenses and endorsements. For more information please click here. If you require new prescription spectacles or contact lenses, we cannot provide you with a certificate without proof of the new prescription. DL12 certificates are valid for 60 days from the time of assessment.

252 Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland 1023 | Tel 09 524 5864 | Fax 09 529 4579 | info@epsomeyecare.co.nz