1. Why is it so important for people to have regular eye examinations? How regular should they be?
An eye examination should be part of everyone’s normal health routine, looking after your eyes is as important as looking after the rest of your body. An eye examination is an important part of looking after your eyes, but it’s more than a simple test of your sight. Your optometrist is able to check your eye health and other general health issues during an eye examination and give advice.
Most people should have their eyes examined every two years; however you may need to have an examination more often depending on your age and medical history.
Here are some important reasons to have a regular eye examination and look after your eyes:
- Good vision helps you work and play safely and comfortably. It leads to a better quality of life.
- Your eyes are the only pair you’ve got. If you lose your eyesight it may never be replaced.
- An eye examination can detect early signs of eye conditions before you notice them.
- An eye examination can also detect other general health problems.
- Unlike your teeth, your eyes do not usually hurt if there is something wrong.
2. Are there any at risk groups where the advice is different? If so, who, and what is the advice?
Yes there are. If you are over 40 years old or at particular risk of developing an eye condition such as glaucoma then it is particularly important to have regular eye examinations at least every two years. People who are at particular risk of developing glaucoma are people who are of African-Caribbean or South Asian origin or people who have a close family member with the condition. If you are in one of these groups then your optometrist will recommend how regularly you need to have eye examinations. Of course, if you have any problems with your eyes, or notice any changes in your sight, then you should see your optometrist too.
3. What do eye examinations detect, other than issues with sight?
An eye examination can detect early signs of potentially serious eye conditions and may also detect other health concerns such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
4. What can people expect at an eye examination?
An eye examination carried out by an optometrist usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
At the start of the eye examination, your optometrist will ask why you are having your eyes examined, whether it is a routine check-up or if you have come for a specific reason.
If you are experiencing problems with your eyes or vision your optometrist will need to know what symptoms you have, how long you have had them and whether any changes have happened suddenly or slowly over a period of time. They will also ask you about your general health and whether you have previously used glasses or contact lenses. They may also ask you what kind of work you do and whether you play sports or have any hobbies.
Your optometrist will examine both the outside and inside of your eyes. This will allow the optometrist to assess the health of your eyes and may identify any other underlying medical problems.
The inside of your eyes will be examined using an ophthalmoscope, which is a special torch , or with a slit lamp and a hand held lens in front of your eye. These instruments will allow your optometrist to examine structures such as the lens inside your eye, to see if you have signs of cataract, your optic nerve where it enters your eye (which is where we may spot signs of glaucoma), and your retina.
They will also ask you to read the letters on a chart, which is one of the most familiar parts of an eye examination.
Many optometrists now offer extra tests, such as taking a photograph of the outside or inside of your eye. There may be an additional charge for this.
5. How can people check their optician is reputable?
All optometrists practising in the UK must be registered with the General Optical Council, the profession’s regulatory body. When choosing an optometrist, look for the letters FCOptom or MCOptom after their name. It means that the optometrist is a fellow or member of the College and agrees to abide by the College’s Guidance for professional practice. To find an optometrist local to you who is a member of the College visit: www.lookafteryoureyes.org
6. What process occurs after an eye test if people need glasses?
After your sight test your optometrist will give you a copy of the prescription they have found. You are able to have this spectacle prescription made up wherever you choose. However, if you decide to have spectacles made up at a different practice to where you had your eyes examined it can be more difficult to resolve problems should they occur. We therefore recommend that it is best if you have your spectacles made up where you have your eyes examined.
You can discuss the best form of vision correction to suit your individual lifestyle and visual needs with your optometrist or dispensing optician. If you wish to have spectacles, then the optometrist or dispensing optician will advise you on the best type of frame for your needs and prescriptionAs part of continuing care and service your optometrist will be happy to adjust or make minor repairs to your glasses where possible.
If you don’t want to wear glasses, contact lenses may be an option, either to wear on a regular or occasional basis. If you would like to try contact lenses, your optometrist will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages with you, and fit you with these. If you wish to be fitted with contact lenses you may need to return to the practice for a separate appointment to be fitted with them, as well as to be taught how to handle and look after them.
7. What considerations do people need to make in terms of getting the right glasses for their needs/lifestyles?
As part of the dispensing process, your optometrist or dispensing optician will advise you about the most appropriate frame for you. The frame needs to be suitable for your prescription and type of spectacle lens that you choose, as well as being comfortable andfitting your face well. Other things to consider are whether you need special glasses for playingsport or whether you would like to have prescription sunglasses .