On average, a comprehensive eye exam takes about 20 to 60 minutes. There are certain factors, however, that can keep you at an optometrist’s office for longer. Here’s what to consider when you’re blocking out time on your calendar for an eye appointment.
What Determines How Long an Eye Exam Takes?
Your eye exam may take more or less time depending on:
- Whether you need contacts in addition to glasses
- Whether the optometrist dilates your pupils
- Any symptoms you’re experiencing
- Any previously diagnosed eye disorders or diseases
- Whether it’s your first visit to the office
- Your age
- Your and your family’s medical history
It’s one thing if you’re stopping in for a routine eye appointment with an optometrist you’ve seen before. In that case, your exam might last a breezy 30 minutes or less. But if you’re a new patient who’s experiencing various symptoms, in need of a contact lens fitting, or getting your pupils dilated, then your appointment could last 30 minutes or longer.
Want to shave a little time off your visit? When you book an eye exam with us, we’ll email you an intake form—this will save you around 10 minutes because you can complete your “paperwork” ahead of time online.
What Happens During an Eye Exam?
Eye exams consist of a series of tests that gauge both your overall ocular health and your vision. Some components you may experience include:
- A visual acuity test (you’ll probably read an eye chart with progressively smaller rows of letters)
- A peripheral vision test (you’ll be asked to spot changes or movement in your peripheral vision)
- A refraction exam (you’ll look through various lenses to determine the prescription for your corrective lenses)
- Binocular testing (the optometrist will assess how your eyes move in case of abnormalities)
- A slit-lamp exam (the optometrist will use a slit-lamp microscope to assess certain internal and external eye structures)
- Eye pressure measurement (the optometrist will use tonometry to measure your intraocular pressure)
- A dilation exam (the optometrist will examine the back of your eye to assess your retinal health)
- A color vision test (you’ll be shown images that test for color blindness)
For even more detail on the above components, read: What to Expect at an Eye Exam.
How Long Does an Eye Exam With Dilation Take?
An eye exam during which the optometrist dilates your pupils can take an hour or more. This is because the eye drops that dilate your eyes may need up to half an hour before they’ve taken full effect (or even longer, if you’re taking certain eye medications).
Once your eyes are dilated, the optometrist will be able to look through your pupils to examine the interior parts of your eyes, including your retina and optic nerve.
Not all eye exams require that your pupils be dilated—it may depend on your medical history, date of last dilation, prescription strength, or other factors. Some eyecare offices now have advanced machinery that can photograph the back of the eye without first dilating your pupils (this may require an additional fee on top of the cost of an eye exam). Make sure to chat with your doctor on what the best course of action is for you and your retinas!
How Long Will My Pupils Stay Dilated?
Your pupils may stay dilated for up to six hours after an eye exam, but it differs from patient to patient. It’s important to plan ahead by bringing sunglasses to the appointment and having a ride home arranged for afterward. You’ll be sensitive to bright light and glare—especially from screens—so close-up work may not be possible as the effects of the drops wear off. It’s best to avoid reflective surfaces and rest your eyes as much as possible following your exam.
Is a Contact Lens Exam Different From an Eye Exam?
Yes! A contact lens exam involves a fitting where the doctor takes additional measurements and assesses the tear film, visual correction, comfort, and fit of a specific contact lens. It can be conducted in addition to a comprehensive eye exam during the same appointment, but you should make sure to tell your optometrist that you’re looking to wear contacts prior to your visit.
If it’s your first time wearing contacts, this process also includes training on how to insert and remove them. All of these procedures ensure that your contacts will be the right size, fit comfortably, and give you the clearest vision possible.
A contact lens exam will add some more time to your appointment—plan for additional time, plus a potential follow-up appointment to see how you’re doing with your contacts. Ready to have a contact lens exam at Warby Parker? Here’s how you book it.
Read more: How is a Contact Lens Exam Different from an Eye Exam?
How Long Does It Take To Get Prescription Glasses After an Eye Exam?
Expect to wait 7–10 business days to get new prescription glasses following your eye exam, though quicker turnaround times are possible (especially with expedited shipping). And remember, once you get your prescription from an eye exam, you can use it to order glasses at any optical retailer (online or in person).
Some offices may tell you that you can take home new glasses on the same day as your exam, though this process can result in rushed decisions and a limited number of frame options. We prefer to let people browse a wide selection of glasses online or in-store, try them on at home or virtually, and ship them quickly.
How Long Does It Take To Get Contacts After an Eye Exam?
Contact lenses that you order online or from an optometrist’s office usually arrive in about a week (or less, with expedited shipping). If your optometrist gives you trial lenses after your appointment, however, you’ll be able to wear them immediately. Most patients at Warby Parker stores walk out of their appointments with a finalized contact lens prescription or trial lenses, whether they wear our own brand, Scout, or a different one.
Set Some Time Aside for Your Eyes
So, how long do eye exams take? Reserve about an hour for the exam itself, with the understanding that you might need more time to take it easy while your pupils are dilated.
Although the minutes or hours you spend at the optometrist might vary, the broader answer to this question should always be the same: Your appointment should take the amount of time necessary to ensure the health of your eyes and vision.