The Glasses, Frames & Lenses Guide to : Eye Tests

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6 April 2018

How often has a loved one told you ‘look after your eyes, you only have one pair’? The value of regular eye testing lies in the early detection of any problem which can be treated or prevented early. An eye test can even detect any underlying health problems that you were not aware of, including diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and life-threatening illnesses.

You will normally be guided by your optician as to how often you should have an eye test. As a rule, an eye test every two years is regarded as a safe interval.

Anyone with serious eye problems or fast changing prescriptions will require an eye test at least once a year, and may even be recalled more often if the optician deems it appropriate.

When should a baby have an eye test?

All babies should have their eyes examined by a qualified doctor before they reach six months of age. A babies’ fine stereopsis is fully developed by nine months of age. After nine months of age, intervention to correct any problems may be too late.

After your baby has passed the first set of eye tests they won’t need to have their eyes checked again until they are toddlers. Children between the age of three and five should have their eyes examined.

How often should children have eye tests?

A child’s vision is fully developed by the age of six, so any diseases or conditions which would hinder the child from seeing clearly during this time with both eyes may result in the child having a “lazy eye” or “crossed eyes”.

Special testing by an optician or doctor qualified to exam eyes is required to determine any problems at the earliest stage possible. It is imperative for children to perform well at school and without proper eye sight and eye care, it is very difficult for children to function normally in the classroom, therefore regular eye testing is essential.

How often should you have your eyes tested after 60?

In the UK, Children under the age of 16 (or 19 and in full-time education) are entitled to free eye tests on the NHS, as are all adults over the age of 60.

Once you reach the age of 70 and beyond, you should have a full eye examination at least once a year, even if you aren’t having any problems with your vision. Your vision changes more often as you get older.

Remember it is free to have your eyes tested when you reach 60, so you have nothing to lose.

Age increases the risk of cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. If detected in the early stages, the development of some diseases can be slowed or in some cases completely cured.

Who qualifies for free eye tests?

Good vision gives a better quality of life. NHS sight tests are available free to people under 16 or under 19 in full time education and to people over 60. People who are on benefits and low incomes are also eligible. Glaucoma sufferers and their close relatives over 40, diabetics and people who are registered blind or partially sighted also qualify.

What happens during an eye test?

There are several reasons why you would have an eye test – it may be a routine eye test, or you may have a specific eye issue you wish to have looked at, or maybe you have been referred by your GP to the optician.

• Whatever the reason for your visit, you need to ensure you discuss all your concerns with your optician before the test starts. You may think you need glasses, so mention this to your optician. A good option will probe into your health history, and that of your family too

• After your initial discussion about your situation, your eyes will be tested by using a letter chart, which most of us are familiar with. However, if you cannot read, there are alternate tests which can be done – making use of images or numbers

• The next stage will be to check your outer and inner eye. Your optician will shine a light in the front and back of your eyes to see their reaction to the light, and to check the general health of your eyes. This is painless and not unbearable, and does not take long. Your optician will ask you to look in several directions, so they can have a thorough look at your eyes and ensure they are healthy and that the muscles controlling the movement of your eyes are working properly

• An instrument called a tonometer is used to check the pressure of the eyeball. This sends a small puff of air against the eyeball to measure the amount of pressure inside the eye. This will feel ‘funny’, but it is painless and only takes a few seconds. High pressure can indicate the patient is in the early stages of glaucoma, so this is an important test

• Finally, your optician will decide whether you require prescription glasses. You will then be asked to read through various lenses until you are both satisfied you have found the correct and most suitable prescription for you

Good vision gives a better quality of life – A visit to the optician is certainly worth your while.