Just got my medical back last month after an eight-year hiatus .
The doctor used the good old standard eye chart with the big E on top. I remember taking a physical at American during my AE interview. I don't remember which kind of eye chart they used. I do remember they used some kind of funky eye chart to test for colorblindness. Nothing like what you'd get from an FAA doctor or your own optometrist.
I'm over 40 and needed an EKG to get my First. Of ourse, he did charge extra for that
My AME uses a standard eye chart. (line 7 is DEFPOTEC) When I did my airline medical (AE/AA) They use a machine similar to what the DMV uses, they check each eye individually, and check for both near and far vision. I found out that my right eye is 20/30, and had to get corrective lenses as a condition of hire. AA medical was thoughtful enough to forward their info to the FAA who kindly added a corrective lenses restriction to my medical. The thing that stinks is my new copy of the medical is signed in the notes section by an FAA doctor, but the signature line for the AME is not signed becuase my AME has never actually seen the current copy. During training, every time I presented my medical, I had to explain why it wasn't signed... pain in the butt. So my advice is.. if your AME is letting you "cheat" on the standard eye chart, get a real test before you go to an airline physical. It would have been much less of a pain in the butt if I already had the medical restriction and corrective lenses when I showed up.
I have to stick my head in a machine to check my vision, both with and without glasses. No clue how it checks my distance vision when the box is only about 2 feet long! I also have to look into another box to check my peripheral vision.