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Slit Lamp

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What is a slit lamp exam?

Diseases of the eye can be difficult to diagnose during a general physical examination. A doctor who specializes in treating eye problems, called an ophthalmologist, is better able to examine and diagnose these conditions because the tools they have are specific to the eyes. When you have an eye checkup, you will likely undergo a slit lamp exam.

You will usually have the slit lamp exam at an optometry or ophthalmology office. The exam is also called biomicroscopy. It allows the doctor to microscopically examine your eyes for any abnormalities or problems.

What happens during a slit lamp exam?

You do not have to prepare in advance for a slit lamp exam.

Once you are in the examination chair, the doctor will place an instrument in front of you on which to rest your chin and forehead. This helps steady your head for the exam. Your eye doctor may put drops in your eyes to make any abnormalities on the surface of your cornea more visible. The drops contain a yellow dye called fluorescein, which will wash away your tears. Additional drops may also be put in your eyes to allow your pupils to dilate, or get bigger.

The doctor will use a low-powered microscope, along with a slit lamp­, which is a high-intensity light. They will look closely at your eyes. The slit lamp has different filters to get different views of the eyes. Some doctor’s offices may have devices that capture digital images to track changes in the eyes over time.

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