Why are eye tests important?

Rachael Smith - Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By far, the most important of our senses is our sense of sight. Up to 80% of all information we perceive is through our sense of sight and you may not realise it, we use our eyes all of the time – you’re using them right now to read this blog!

Regular eye tests are important, as your eyes generally don’t hurt when they have an underlying problem – and if you’ve had a problem such as blurred vision or floaters for a long time, it’s likely you’ll have gotten used to it and are unaware of the long-term health impact this can have on your life.

Having an eye test will help you and your optometrist to see if:
You need wear glasses or contact lenses
If your current glasses or contact lenses prescription needs to be changed
You show any symptoms of eye diseases such as:
o Diabetes
o Glaucoma
o Macular degeneration

If during your eye test your optometrist notices a problem with your sight or overall eye health, they can provide appropriate solutions (glasses/contact lenses), products (eye drops/sprays) or if required, they can refer you to a specialist if you require more complex treatment. If you do have an underlying problem with your sight or eyes, it is better to find it sooner rather than later – if detected early enough, most eye problems can be corrected or improved, but if left too long, it may become impossible to treat the issue. Evidence suggests that around 50% of all sight loss could have been prevented if the patient had had their eyes checked earlier in life.

Optometrists recommend that most people have their eyes tested every two years, but in certain circumstances we suggest more regular checks. For example, if:
You are a child wearing glasses
Have diabetes
Are aged over 40 and have a family history of glaucoma (parents/grandparents/siblings etc.)
Are aged over 70

Eye tests generally take around 20-30 minutes and do not cause any pain or discomfort. Contrary to popular belief, an eye exam is not just reading the alphabet from across the room while wearing a pair of funny glasses – your optometrist examines both the inside and outside of your eyes, tests your eyes’ reflexes and can check your peripheral vision.

The NHS provides free eye tests for people in certain circumstances and can also offer optical vouchers to help with the cost of glasses or contact lenses. To find out more information or to find out if you qualify for an NHS-funded eye test, visit this website.

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