What happens in an eye test?

What does an eye test involve and why is it important for your overall health?

• An eye test will take about 30 minutes
• You don’t need a referral from a doctor
Eye Tests are Bulk Billed* - this means that if you are covered by Medicare you will not have to pay out of pocket expenses.

Getting to know you

When visiting a Bupa Optical store for an eye test, your optometrist will take time to get to know you. You’ll be asked questions about your eyes and vision, health, your family’s health, your work, hobbies, interests and lifestyle. This will help us to understand your visual needs, particularly if you have any concern.

What happens in an eye test may vary depending on your symptoms, age, health and lifestyle. Your optometrist will tailor your eye examination to your individual needs.

A comprehensive eye test may include:

Visual Acuity Test and Refraction

Your optometrist will check your ability to see objects in the distance and up close using a letter chart. He or she will also look at your previous glasses or contact lenses (if you have any) to establish a baseline.

Your vision will be measured, usually behind an instrument called a phoropter, which houses hundreds of different lenses. With the lights dimmed you will look through this to the letter chart and answer a series of questions. Sometimes the chart may look a little blurry or doubled; your optometrist will help you find the lens which is the clearest and most comfortable for you.

Colour deficiency test

If colour perception is a concern your optometrist can perform a test for colour blindness as it’s commonly called, however it’s more of a colour defect than a form of blindness. One way to test whether you have trouble seeing certain colours is through the Ishihara Test. It can detect deficiencies in seeing red and green and blue and yellow by using a series of plates showing either a number or a path within a pattern of coloured dots. Patterns are usually used for young children who can’t yet read numbers.

Eye health assessment

One of the most important areas of the examination is the eye health assessment. These tests don’t take long and they don’t hurt. Your optometrist will look very closely at your eyes, both inside and out. He or she will look at the structures of your eyes, including the optic nerve, macula, retina and cornea, checking for cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye conditions.

Testing may include:

Eye pressure check (tonometry)

This is a quick and painless test which measures the fluid pressure inside your eyes as part of an assessment for glaucoma. Too much pressure in the eyes can be a warning sign of glaucoma. An optometrist will use an instrument called a tonometer to measure eye pressure.


This test is an examination of the back of the eye (retina) known as the fundus. Eye drops are sometimes used to dilate the pupils to give the optometrist a larger view of the retina, optic disc and blood vessels. The optomestrist will check for any eye diseases including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration but also to ensure the retina and optic nerve are in good health. During a funduscopy, your optometrist will also look for signs of other health conditions like high blood pressure.

Slit lamp biomicroscopy

This test uses a powerful microscope and bright light (a slit lamp) to examine the structures in the anterior eye. This is important to check for any signs of pathology like cataracts, corneal disease or other abnormalities.

You may not have had all these tests, or you may have had other tests. This is because each eye test is tailored to suit the needs of the individual.

Recommendations and advice

Once your optometrist has all the information needed about your eye health and vision they can recommend the best options for you. Prevention is always better than a cure, so our optometrists offer individual advice on how you can you can look after your eyes and eyesight both now and into the future.

We are here to help, ask your optometrist if you have any questions about eye health or book an eye test today.

*Bulk billing is available for eligible Medicare card holders and eligible services. Some consultations are not covered by Medicare, including some contact lens consultations. Please contact your store for more information.