Some optical stores offer eyesight tests, often using automated machinery. This has raised some questions about eyesight tests vs eye exams, including which one a patient needs. This article will explain the difference, so you know which is right for you.


Most eyesight tests are performed by a computer. Accuracy is limited, as is the extent of the test and its results. An eyeexam is performed by a Doctor of Optometry, that will examine, diagnose, and treat your eye.


A sight test looks for a refraction, helping to determine the strength of the lens required. Accuracy is limited though, as the computer doesn’t account for eye muscle coordination, pupil size, corneal or lens irregularities, patient movement, and other factors. An additional problem is added to the results because of the eye’s tendency to over-focus while looking into a computer this way. That leads to the machine measuring the refraction incorrectly.

Not only is the accuracy of a sight test limited, but it also doesn’t help diagnose, or even detect serious eye problems. Many eye diseases don’t cause blurriness or poor vision until the disease is already well progressed. Therefore, your eyesight test will not find:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Tumors on the eye or in the brain
  • High blood pressure


Your eye exam will be performed by a licensed optometrist who will look at the entire eye and vision. An appointment with an optometrist is about more than receiving a prescription for new glasses, think of an eye exam as a physical for your eyes.

What should you expect during your appointment?

  • You’ll discuss your medical history as well as family history.
  • The Optometrist may ask more questions about your recreational activities and your school/work environment, to assess your needs and visual demands.
  • Your eye will be measured for the visual acuity of each eye.
  • A binocular vision test (ability to use both eyes together).
  • A colour vision evaluation.
  • Your Optometrist will assess the health of the eye, inside and out using a biomicroscope, as well as an ophthalmoscope and a dilated eye examination when needed.
  • They will perform a neurological assessment of your visual system which includes the pupil reactions, and ocular muscle reflexes.
  • You will be screened for glaucoma.
  • Your Optometrist may diagnose the refractive status and write a prescription.
  • You’ll receive a final analysis and recommendations for future eye care.

A Doctor of Optometry may utilize similar automated equipment that eyesight tests use, however, this provides an estimate for the prescription, before moving forward with a more detailed refraction.


A sight test is much quicker and cheaper than an eye exam but as you can see they’re not worth much time or money, to begin with. Seeing is a gift that deserves your attention, book an appointment with a Doctor of Optometry here.