Please bring with you your most current prescription or glasses, as well as your contact lens information (boxes or a recent prescription). Don’t worry if you don’t have these things to bring, we can have you sign a release form to get this information from your last eye exam faxed over to our office.

A complete or comprehensive eye exam is the only way to ensure total eye health and diagnose any eye-related health issues   It is more than checking to see if your vision is 20/20 and handing out a prescription.  Many factors can effect your eye health, and a complete eye exam takes all of those factors into account before taking further action.

We’ve broken the exam down into layman’s terms in order to help you understand the role that each test plays.  The following tests are the most commonly performed, however your optometrist may choose to add additional tests if complications are perceived.


Steps that you can expect in a typical optometric examination include:

  • Case History – you will be asked about your general health, medications you may be taking, your working environment, hobbies, etc. You will also be asked to describe any vision problems you may have been experiencing.
  • External Eye Examination – Your optometrist will examine the external area around the eye to ensure that there are no abnormalities.
  • Internal Eye Examination – Using the slit lamp microscope and an ophthalmoscope, your optometrist will check your eyes for indications of abnormalities, from front to back.Some problems detected during an internal eye examination may indicate possible disease, such as diabetes or hypertension. If your optometrist sees any of these warning signs, you will be referred to a physician for further examination.
  • Tonometry – Tonometry measures the fluid pressure in the eye and is an important test in detecting glaucoma.
  • Vision Tests – A number of tests are used to assess your vision:
    1. Retinoscopy – The optometrist can determine the strength of your eyes using various lenses and the retinoscope. This is done without feedback from the patient and is therefore an invaluable instrument for assessing the vision problems of children and others who may not be able to read an eye chart.
    2. Visual Acuity Tests – Using the familiar wall chart and a hand-held charts, your optometrist will assess your ability to see small detail clearly at both near and far distances. You may sit behind a phoropter, an instrument containing a combination of lenses. Lens choices are systematically changed until clear focus is obtained.
    3. Eye Movement – Using a number of different tests, the optometrist will evaluate how well your eyes align or coordinate when working together and individually.
    4. Peripheral Vision – The optometrist may evaluate how well you see targets which are not directly in front of you.

Other tests may be undertaken to evaluate your ability to change focus, see colour correctly, or perceive depth correctly.

The items above are typical to a routine eye examination. Your optometrist will choose those tests required to adequately evaluate YOUR visual system! (Courtesy of the Alberta Optometrists Association)

Typically you can expect it to take around 30 minutes or so. Allow longer if it is your first visit or if you are anticipating choosing a pair of glasses.

Dr. Phillips may wish to dilate your pupils in order to examine the back of the eye better.  This is mostly required for people with a high nearsighted prescription, or people over 50 years of age with smaller pupils.  It will also be done for post-surgical check ups for cataracts, and if you are experiencing any unusual signs in your vision such as flashing lights.  These dilation drops will affect your vision for approximately 3-5 hours, and you should avoid driving immediately afterwards.  It is a good idea to bring sunglasses also, as you will be more light sensitive than usual.

About a week for single vision lenses (distance or reading), closer to 2 weeks for progressive lenses.

At six months of age!

Many vision problems can be detected at this stage and the earlier a condition is caught, the higher the chance of correction!  If left un-examined, young children may not even realize that anything is wrong because they assume that everyone sees the same way they do!


20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet.

The below list is a recommended minimum frequency for low-risk patients in each age group:

  • Infants and toddlers (birth to 24 months) – By age 6 months, then annually
  • Preschool (2 to 5 years) – At age 3, and prior to entering elementary school
  • School age (6 to 19 years) – Annually
  • Adult (20 to 64 years) – Every one to two years
  • Older adult (65 years and older) – Annually

If you are under 19 years of age, or over 65 years of age, Alberta Health Care covers you for an annual eye exam, or more frequently if necessary. If you are aged 19-64 years and come in for a routine eye examination or to update your prescription, this is not covered. However, medically necessary eye exams are covered for any age-group, see the next question.

Examples include:

  • Monitoring for diabetes issues, glaucoma and retinal disease
  • Pre and Post-operative care for cataract patients
  • Eye infections or injuries
  • Foreign objects in the eye
  • Sudden appearance of floaters, spots, or flashes of light
  • Sudden changes in vision or acute pain in the eye
  • Other visual disturbances may be covered… ask your optometrist!