Equipment used in an eye test

Ever wondered what all these elaborate looking devices do? We take a closer look at some of the equipment used in an eye exam.

Phoropter (Refractor head)

If your optometrist believes you need glasses or contact lenses, a phoropter may be used to test which lens is needed to correct your vision. A phoropter is an instrument which houses hundreds of different lenses. Your optometrist will work with you to find the lens which provides you with the best vision. This is one way an optometrist determines your prescription.


Like a Phoropter an autorefractor measures your eye’s ability to focus and helps to determine your prescription, but an autorefractor does this automatically. This means there is no need to look at a letter chart or give feedback on how clear your vision is. The machine measures refractive error by monitoring how light is changed as it enters the eye and when an image lands on the retina.

Retinal camera

A retinal camera can be used to take a photo of the inside of your eyes. You will see a bright flash, but after a few moments your eyes will re-adjust. These photos not only give your optometrist a thorough look at your eye health but help monitor and compare images of your eyes throughout the years.

Visual field analyser

A visual field analysing machine is used to measure the sensitivity and extent of your central and peripheral vision. It maps the visual field of your eyes, which can provide your optometrist with valuable information relating to your eye health. It is often used if your optometrist suspects there may be signs of glaucoma. It is also a valuable test for people living with a brain injury or recovering from a stroke.

Slit lamp

A slit lamp is a powerful microscope with a bright light which is used to examine the structures within a person’s eyes. As part of a procedure known as a slit lamp biomicroscopy an optometrist will examine the conjunctiva, cornea, eyelids, iris, pupil, lens, sclera and retina to check for any abnormalities or signs of eye disease.


A tonometer is an instrument used to measure the fluid pressure of your eyes. The test is quick and painless and important for the early detection of glaucoma.

Ophthalmoscope (Fundoscope)

An ophthalmoscope is a commonly used instrument about the size of a small torch with a bright light and strong magnifying lenses. Sometimes eye drops are used to open the pupil wider to look inside the eye and examine the health of the retina, optic nerve, macula and blood vessels. Your optometrist may also use a light attached to a headband, along with a handheld lens, to have a better view inside the eye.

While some of these instruments or devices may look daunting, none of the tests in a routine eye exam are painful or protracted. If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to speak to your optometrist or eye care professional.

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