Your eyes are one of the most important parts of your body, and sight loss is one of the biggest fears many of us have – particularly as we get older.
While your eyesight deteriorating with age is somewhat inevitable, there are a number of steps you can take to keep your eyes performing well for many years to come, and this all starts with the humble eye test.
Ideally, these should be carried out at least every two years, but if you feel changes in your eyesight it is important to have it checked sooner rather than later.
In this blog we will look at what happens at an eye test, what are some of the common risks to your eyesight and simple steps you can take to protect your eyes.
Why are eye tests so important?
While you will likely go for an eye test because you think your eyesight is deteriorating, or if you have started a new role and find your eyes are under more strain and want some help.
However, your eyes can hold a lot of information about your general health, which would likely go unnoticed to the layman, but which can easily be spotted by a trained optometrist.
With early diagnosis, many conditions can be fully treated, and an eye test can be the best way to discover these issues before they become really serious.
Additional reading: Your entitlement to NHS Ophthalmic Services (NHS Inform).
What happens at an eye test?
When you are called through, your Optometrist (Stuart, in our practice) will talk to you about what brought you to see them, if you have noticed any changes in your eyesight, how you are finding your existing glasses or contact lenses (if you wear them), and if there is anything in particular you would like them to investigate.
The Optometrist will then carry out a range of tests such as the letter chart, which is what comes to mind for most people when they think of an eye exam, others will check your colour and light sensitivity, as well as the health of the nerves and tissue behind the eyes which are not obvious without specialist equipment.
Finally, the Optometrist will talk through your results and let you know if they think that you might need glasses, or if your current prescription has changed and will then hand you over to an Optical Assistant (Brooke or Lori when you come to us) who will help you choose the right frame to suit you, the lenses you might require, or discuss contact lenses with you if required.
Which groups are most at risk of eye disease?
While everyone’s eyes are fragile and need to be protected from sunlight, dust, and injury, there are some people who need to pay particular attention to their eyehealth due to other conditions they may have.
It is particularly important to have regular eye tests if you are:
- Are over 60
- Have diabetes (diabetic retinopathy, where the retina becomes damaged, is a common complication of diabetes)
- Have a learning disability
- From a family with a history of eye disease
- From a certain ethinic minority (people from Afro-Caribbean communities are at more risk of glaucoma, for example, and people from South Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes).
If you are due an eye test, or have concerns about your eye health, get in touch with us to book an appointment or get advice.