A female child sitting in an optometrist's office looking into a machine that tests her vision.

Taking care of your health is important and eye exams play a big part in that. Comprehensive eye exams can help your optometrist detect and manage eye-related diseases or provide a diagnosis for prevalent vision problems, such as nearsightedness and presbyopia.

Edmontonians can benefit from various options for eye care, but that comes with questions—and a big one is usually the cost. 

The average cost for an eye exam in Edmonton is around $140, but it can vary depending on the clinic and the range of tests offered. If you wear contact lenses there can be an additional cost for the contact lens fitting, which can range from $30 to $100 depending on the type of contact lens. 

What’s an Eye Exam?

Eye exams are not just for people who have issues with their eyesight or wear glasses or contact lenses—they are important for everyone, especially those who want to maintain their eye health.

The cost of an eye exam depends on the clinic and how detailed the examination is. Exams that utilize advanced diagnostic equipment might cost more but could also give you a more complete picture of your ocular health.

While the average cost of an eye exam is around $140, additional testing may be required depending on your health.

How Often Should I Get an Eye Exam?

An eye exam is one of the best ways to track the development of potential eye diseases. Your eyes can change rapidly during childhood and again after you turn 65, so experts generally recommend getting more frequent examinations over these years.

But simply because you’re between 30–40, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your eye health. That’s why the Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends the following eye exam schedule:

  • Children should have their first exam between 6–9 months
  • Between 2–5 years, children should have a second eye exam
  • Ages 6–19: 1 exam annually
  • Ages 20–64: 1 exam at least every 2 years
  • Age 65+: 1 exam annually

Note that these are general guidelines only, and your exam frequency may vary depending on your individual circumstance.

What Can You Expect During an Eye Exam?

An eye exam will have a range of tests depending on your health and other risk factors. Your optometrist typically begins by reviewing your medical history to determine which tests suit your needs.

As your eye doctor becomes familiar with you and your family’s history, eye health, and vision needs, they can better tailor recommendations and treatments specifically for you. This is one of the main benefits of building a lasting relationship with your local optometrist.

Visual Acuity Test

Visual acuity tests are usually the first step in diagnosing a vision problem. They focus directly on how well you can see and can help your optometrist determine the type of corrective lenses or treatment you may need.

Visual acuity tests measure your ability to see letters or objects from a specific distance. This distance is usually 20 feet. So if someone says they have 20/20 vision, it means they can see clearly at 20 feet what the average person can see at 20 feet. 

A woman in an optometrist's office shaking hands with her optometrist.

Refraction Test

A refraction test measures the degree of refractive error you have. A refractive error means your eye cannot focus light correctly, causing images to appear blurry. This can include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.

During a refraction test, your optometrist may do an objective refraction test and a subjective refraction test.

  • Objective refraction is based on the physical structure of your eye and can be determined by shining a light into your eye using an autorefractor.
  • Subjective refraction is measured by having you look through a phoropter, a specialized instrument that contains lenses, and read letters or symbols off a chart as your optometrist switches the lens.

Internal Eye Health

Examining the eye’s internal structures sets a comprehensive eye exam apart from basic sight tests. Some early disease warning signs can only be seen by looking inside the eye, so with experienced care and advanced diagnostic equipment, you can stay one step ahead of serious conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Diagnostic equipment your optometrist may use includes:

  • A slit lamp to peer into the back of your eye and inspect your retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels.
  • Optomap Ultra-Wide Field Imaging allows optometrists to see up to 82% of your retina. This helps them detect early signs of eye diseases like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinal detachment.
  • Ocular coherence tomography (OCT) uses a laser to create cross-sectional images of your retina, which can help identify eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Peripheral and central vision abnormalities are common symptoms of some eye diseases and neurological conditions. Using a visual field test, your optometrist can detect these blank spots in your vision.

Visual Field Testing

You will be asked to look straight ahead during the exam while lights appear in your peripheral vision. Your responses are recorded, and the results are analyzed to detect any visual field defects.

Glaucoma Testing

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada. In glaucoma there is progressive damage to the optic nerve that carries visual information to the brain. One risk factor for glaucoma is having high eye pressure. Your optometrist can measure intraocular pressure (IOP) with a tonometry test. It can be done using a puff of air or a gentle probe against the eye. Scans of the optic nerve can also be taken that allow your optometrist to detect early signs of damage to the optic nerve. These scans are important because early detection is key to preventing vision loss from glaucoma.

An Eye Exam Is Worth the Cost

Getting an eye exam is an integral part of maintaining good eye health. While the cost of an eye exam in Edmonton varies depending on several factors, it can be covered by many insurance plans. It’s worth checking with your provider or insurer’s policy to see your options.

However, don’t let cost discourage you from receiving proper eye care. Prevention and early intervention are key to maintaining healthy eyes and may save you from inflated expenses down the line.River City Eye Care offers direct billing to all major medical insurance providers. Book your next appointment with us today!