5 Tools & Instruments Used by an Ophthalmologist

Nov 19, 2021 | Optometry

5 Tools & Instruments Used by an Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists have a plethora of medical tools at their disposal to aid the eye exam process. Whether you’re studying to start your own ophthalmology practice or you’re a patient trying to familiarize yourself with the procedures, here are examples of five tools and instruments used by an ophthalmologist.


A tonometer is a tool that helps an eye doctor measure the intraocular pressure (IOP) of the eye. There are multiple forms of tonometry tests, including non-contact tonometry with an air puff tonometer or indentation tonometry with a Tono-pen or other device. Tonometry tests are extremely important to schedule regularly because they can help identify internal eye pressure and determine whether a patient may suffer vision loss through glaucoma and a damaged optic nerve.

Eye Chart

All types of eye doctors need to have an eye chart at the ready, including ophthalmologists. There are two main types of eye charts: the Snellen and the Sloan models. Snellen eye charts are the most popular charts in modern-day optometry. A patient will read down the lines of this chart from a distance until they can no longer make out the letters. This is a way for the doctor to understand which prescription lenses will be the most effective.


An ophthalmoscope is a tool that the ophthalmologist uses to examine the interior of the eye. The combination of a light source and built-in mirrors allows the doctor to carefully examine the eye’s retina. Most often, the doctor will apply dilating eye drops to the patient’s eye in order to get a better look at the interior of the eye.


The phoropter is the device that measures refractive error and allows the doctor to test and prescribe the correct lenses to a patient. If you’ve ever been to an eye exam before, the phoropter is the device that the eye doctor situates in front of your face to compare various lens strengths as you read from the Snellen chart. This process often involves A and B questions as the doctor swaps between two lens strengths.


If the patient can’t give feedback to the doctor’s A and B questions due to age and physical or mental conditions, the ophthalmologist will use a retinoscope to measure refractive error instead. The ophthalmologist will shine a beam of light onto the retina to examine its movement. The retinoscope allows the doctor to place various lenses in front of the eye until this movement stops, which helps determine the correct prescription for the patient.

These five tools and instruments used by an ophthalmologist are just some examples of the wide array of ophthalmic supplies that eye doctors use. If you run your own ophthalmic practice and require tonometry equipment like those mentioned above, browse Automated Ophthalmics, Inc.