Why Regular Eye Sight Tests Are Important

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The primary purpose of an eye test is to check the health of your eyes. Eyes can suffer silently and you may not realise anything is the matter. An eyesight test can identify numerous general health problems and early signs of eye conditions before you're aware of any symptoms. If diagnosed early many eye conditions can be treated. The same is often the case for general health problems. So, it’s important to book regular appointments for an eye sight test, especially as you get older.

We tend to associate a change in prescription and new glasses as the main reason for an eyesight test. However, checking for vision loss and providing you with a correction if necessary, so that you can see better, is the secondary function of an eye sight test.


How often should I have an eyesight test?

As a general rule it is recommended that you have an eye sight test every two years. If you are over 40 years of age, have chronic eye problems or fast changing prescriptions, you will need an eye test more often. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will advise when you need your next test.


Should I see an optometrist, ophthalmologist or optician?

You can see either an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a general eye sight test.

An ophthalmologist is a consultant surgeon who diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery, and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

Optometrists provide primary vision care including sight testing and correction, and diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. If they detect an eye disease during an eyesight test they will refer you to an ophthalmologist.

Opticians use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists to fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They do not test vision, write prescriptions for visual correction or diagnose or treat eye diseases.


Signs of eye disease and risk factors to be aware of

Anyone can develop eyesight problems. It’s worth being aware of the signs of eye diseases and their risk factors so that you’re informed and able to seek early diagnosis if you suspect you are developing any of them.

Here we look at the signs and risk factors of some common eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and AMD.



If the lens of your eye is clouded and prevents a clear vision, then it is known as a cataract.



People with cataracts may complain about cloudy or fuzzy vision, double vision in one eye, or glare from lamps and the sun.


Risk factors

You will have a higher risk factor for developing cataracts if you’re getting older, you have a diabetic family history, parents, brothers, sisters, or other family members who have cataracts, or UV damage.



Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage your eye's optic nerve and results in vision loss and blindness. It is caused by an increase in pressure in your eye that damages the optic nerve in your eye.



At first, the most common type of glaucoma, known as open angle glaucoma, typically has no symptoms. As it progresses, you may notice your side vision gradually failing. It can eventually lead to blindness.

If you develop acute angle closure glaucoma, the signs are usually severe and you need to seek immediate medical attention. These include: intense eye pain, reddening in both eyes, sore eye area, headache, halos in the region of lights and blurred/reduced vision.


Risk factors

People with a higher than normal risk of developing glaucoma include those who: are over age 40, have family members with glaucoma, are of African or Hispanic heritage, have high eye pressure, are farsighted or near-sighted, have had an eye injury, have a thinning optic nerve, have thin-centred corneas, or suffer from diabetes, migraines, or poor blood circulation.


Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive eye condition that results from diabetes. It involves damage to your retinal blood vessels and causes permanent vision loss.



In the early stages there are usually no symptoms. In the advanced stages you will suffer from vision loss. You may also have unclear vision, to strain your eyes to see, and headaches due to the eyestrain.


Risk factors

Risk factors, in addition to the presence of diabetes, include: high blood pressure, poor control of blood sugar levels, high cholesterol, pregnancy, and genetic factors including being black, Hispanic or Native American.


Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

Macular degeneration affects the part of your eye known as the macula, and results in damage and blurring of your central vision.



If you have AMD you cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far, but your side vision remains normal. You also lose the ability to distinguish between objects and their background, and images, writing or faces can become distorted and fuzzy in the centre.


Risk factors

Risk factors for AMD include: being 60 plus years of age, having a family history of AMD, smoking cigarettes, obesity and hypertension.

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