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What Is the Difference: Comprehensive vs. General Eye Exam

Your eyes are among the most complex body organs of your body. As such, they may require different exams based on your eye health requirements. The most common are comprehensive eye exams and general eye exams. So, what are comprehensive eye exams versus routine eye exams?


Comprehensive Eye Exams

Comprehensive eye exams are just what the terms suggest. They involve an end-to-end look at your medical and vision history, from the slightest to the most prominent details. The information could impact your current vision predicaments. Your optometrist will document the data, referring to it throughout the eye exam. It comes after meticulous tests evaluating your eyes.

The tests assess your eyes’ muscle function and pressure. Your optometrist may also decide to dilate your eyes for a more thorough examination. By doing so, they can detect more severe eye problems like cataracts or retinal issues.



But a comprehensive eye exam entails more than just testing for diagnostic purposes. You can also get your prescription updated or get new frames. A comprehensive eye exam has many steps. They are all aimed at determining what is best for your eye health.

General (Routine) Eye Exams

Unlike comprehensive eye exams, general eye exams involve fewer steps. Their main objective is to determine if you suffer from vision issues such as refractive eye errors. These conditions are prevalent, representing around 80 percent of vision issues in the U.S. The most common refractive eye errors include:

  • Myopia.
  • Presbyopia.
  • Hyperopia.
  • Astigmatism.

A general eye exam assesses the quality of your vision at different distances. It helps in determining whether you are a good candidate for refractive error correction. This is achievable using optical devices such as contact lenses or eyeglasses. Your optometrist will determine your correct prescription and get you the most suitable eyewear. 

General eye exams are often quick and easy to perform. They usually take about 30 minutes from start to finish. Doctors recommend attending a routine eye exam at least once a year.


What a Comprehensive Eye Exam Entails

In addition to performing a routine eye exam for refractive eye error, a comprehensive exam includes the following.

  • A Cover Test - By covering one eye, your doctor can examine how your eyes work individually.
  • An Ocular Motility Test - It evaluates the movement of your eyes.
  • A Visual Acuity Test - Performed just like in a general eye exam.
  • Depth Test - Evaluates your depth perception.
  • Dilation Test - Dilating the pupils to check if you have any internal eye conditions.
  • Slit Lamp Test - Checking the shape of your cornea for any signs of abnormalities.
  • Glaucoma Test - Checking the pressure within your eyes.


Most eye specialists recommend attending a comprehensive eye test once every two years. But if you have a pre-existing eye health issue, your doctor may recommend more frequent exams. By doing so, you get a chance for early detection of eye conditions and their treatment or management.

For more information about comprehensive and general eye exams, call Brandon Eyes in Wisconsin at our office in Middleton (608) 833-7256 or Madison (608) 833-0301.

A30master none 9:00 am – 5:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Closed Closed (608) 833-0301 608-833-0302 6122 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53705