Your Eye Exam: What to Expect During the Pretest

Your eye exam should be stress free — and surprise free. These steps explain what you should expect from the pre-test portion of your appointment.

At America’s Best, we’re committed to stress-free, high-quality eye care. That’s why we use state-of-the-art equipment and work with skilled professionals at our locations nationwide. Here’s what to expect when you walk in for your eye appointment.

The first part of the exam is what’s known as a “pretest.” You’ll meet with a technician to do some quick, simple assessments to check your vision and the overall health of your eyes before you see the eye doctor.


First, your technician will use an autorefractor. You’ll look at a picture — it will be something simple, like a barn in a grassy field. The autorefractor measures how light changes as it reflects through your eye. This gives the eye doctor a starting point as to what your prescription might be.


Another piece of equipment, called a tonometer, checks for eye pressure. You’ll focus on a green light. While you do this, the tonometer releases a quick puff of air into each eye. It then measures how quickly the air gets bounced back to the machine to determine the eye pressure. 

Here’s why eye pressure matters: If your eyes are healthy, they have just the right amount of fluid in them. But if too much fluid builds up, you could have higher-than-normal eye pressure. That puts you at risk for glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.

Stereopsis Test

Next up is a stereopsis test, to check your depth perception. You’ll put on special glasses and hold a booklet about 16 inches away from your face. The book has patterns on it, usually a group of circles. You’ll tell the technician which circle looks closer to you.

Eye checkups are an essential part of your health care routine. Find an exam time that fits your schedule!

Optional Extra Checks

There are two optional extra checks you can ask for — or that may be recommended.

Retinal imaging. In one, the technician uses a retinal camera to take photos of the important structures in the back of your eyes. If your eye doctor spots anything concerning, you may be referred to a specialist for further testing.

Visual field test. Another optional extra check is of your peripheral vision. It’s called a visual field test and it assists in the early detection of glaucoma, tumors, or other eye diseases.

Here’s how it works:

  • You'll look into a bowl-shaped screen and focus on a black square with a dot in the middle.
  • Whenever you notice a flicker of light, you’ll press a button.
  • The machine tracks if you don’t click when there’s a flicker, or if you click when there’s nothing there.
  • It then compares your results to other people in your age group.

These checks take just a few minutes, but they’re a valuable tool for your eye care!

Recommended reading: America’s Best Guide to Eye Exams