Eye tests are 1 of the main parts of an eye examination. There are several tests you can take, and each 1 evaluates different aspects of vision and eye health.

Here’s a look at the types of eye tests in routine eye exams.

What is a routine eye exam?

A routine eye exam is a chance for your eye doctor to inspect your eyes and answer your questions. Special equipment, instruments and lights may be used to look in your eyeballs to detect any signs of problems or diseases. Eye tests will be performed to check your vision, and if you’ve experienced any recent vision changes, you can discuss them with your eye doctor.

Note: Routine eye exams are different from medical eye exams. A medical exam involves a diagnosis and treatment of an eye disease, like glaucoma or cataracts.

How often should I get an eye exam and why?

The frequency of your eye exams generally depends on your age and if you’re at risk to develop eye and vision problems. Here’s a chart from the American Optometric Association with their recommended exam frequency for an adult patient:1

Patient age (years) Asymptomatic/low risk At-risk 18–39 At least every 2 years At least annually, or as recommended 40–64 At least every 2 years At least annually, or as recommended 65 and older Annually At least annually, or as recommended

Your eye doctor will determine if you’re at-risk for eye and vision problems. Some general factors that can make you at-risk include:2

  • personal or family history of ocular disease
  • belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups
  • having a job that is stressful on the eyes or can potentially damage the eyes
  • taking prescription or nonprescription drugs with ocular side effects
  • wearing contact lenses
  • previous eye surgery or eye injury

The different types of eye tests

Some eye tests check your vision, while others assess your eye health and check for eye disease. Here are some common examples:

Visual acuity

This classic eye test measures how clearly you can see. It uses the Snellen Eye Chart, which has rows of letters, numbers or symbols. You recite each row from top to bottom to determine your eyesight (20/20, 20/40, etc.). Each eye is tested separately.

Visual Refraction

A refraction test helps your eye doctor determine if you need vision correction. Typically, you look through a phoropter (the instrument with a group of lenses on each side) at an eye chart. Your eye doctor will move different lenses in front of your eyes and ask if things look clear or blurry.

Visual Field Test

A field test measures your peripheral (side) vision. First, your eye doctor will have you focus on something straight ahead. Next, objects or lights will appear in your peripheral vision and you call them out as you see them.

Slit lamp

A “slit lamp” is another name for a small microscope an eye doctor uses to magnify your eyes. A beam of light is shined into your eye to examine the cornea, iris, lens and anterior chamber. Slit lamps can help diagnose cataracts, glaucoma, detached retinas, macular degeneration and more.


This exam measures the fluid pressure inside your eye (intraocular pressure). A device called a tonometer injects a puff of air into your eye to test the pressure. Tonometry helps your eye doctor detect glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve and can cause blindness.

Corneal Topography

Corneal Topography is a test that takes thousands of pictures of your eye to see the curve of your cornea. It helps your eye doctor check if your cornea is curved (astigmatism) and for other problems like swelling or scarring. You might get this eye test before you have surgery, a cornea transplant or a contact lens fitting.


Also called a fundoscopy, this exam looks at the back of your eye (fundus). Your eye doctor shines a bright light into your eye to screen your retina, optic disc and blood vessels for eye diseases.

Vision insurance can help maintain eye health

Most vision care plans provide benefits for basic eye care like routine eye exams. At Humana, we offer a variety of vision care plans to help people with basic or special needs. To learn more, check out our Humana vision insurance plans.

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  1. “Comprehensive eye exams,” American Optometric Association, last accessed February 9, 2023, https://www.aoa.org/healthy-eyes/caring-for-your-eyes/eye-exams?sso=y.
  2. “Comprehensive eye exams.”