Questionnaire: Do I Need an Eye Test?
Many people think it important to visit the hairdresser regularly, get their cats or dogs vaccinated annually and have a twice yearly check up with the dentist. But not quite so many get round to getting an eye test unless they have real problems with their sight. This could mean that more people than need to are putting up with minor vision problems that can make everyday tasks much more difficult and even dangerous. Others may have serious eye problems that go undiagnosed. To find out if you need an eye test, see if you answer yes to any of the following questions.
Do you find yourself squinting at the TV?This is a classic sign that you are a little short sighted. Things that are more than a few feet away look out of focus and blurred and it gets more difficult to pick out the detail the further away you are. Children and teenagers can find the same difficulty trying to read the board or screen in the classroom at school or college. Short sightedness affects around 5 million people in the UK and arises when the light that enters the eye focuses on a point that stops short of the retina. Glasses or contact lenses can easily correct this and it is important to do this for driving and for some tasks that you may need to do at work.
Do you find yourself holding the newspaper further away?While short sight tends to affect people of any age, a type of long sightedness called presbyopia affects people around the age of 45. This is an age-related effect. The muscles that focus the eye become a bit more inflexible in middle age and the eyes cannot focus as well. Correction requires reading glasses initially, but presbyopia does get worse over a few years and many people find that they need varifocals or bifocal glasses. Some may need to wear reading glasses and contact lenses. Another option is to have laser treatment to correct the presbyopia but its important to bear in mind that although the improvement will last several years, it may not be permanent.
Do you suffer from headaches if doing close work?If you need to use a computer at work, or you concentrate on fine work such as needlepoint or cross stitch, focusing for long periods can cause eye strain and headaches. The defect in your vision may not be very severe but not doing anything about it will allow eye strain to worsen over time. Avoiding eye strain is usually as simple as getting an eye test to see if you need reading glasses for close work or computer use.
Is it at least 2 years since your last eye test?Even if you are not having any particular issues with your vision, if you have not had an eye test for a couple of years and you are over 40, it is a good idea to book an appointment with an optician. As well as picking up any minor changes in your vision, which might need correction, the optician uses a range of tests to investigate the general health of your eyes. A photograph is usually taken of your retina, to detect very early signs of age related macular degeneration. Other tests can help diagnose chronic conditions such as glaucoma or high blood pressure.
Do you ever get blurred or double vision?
If you get spells of blurred vision, but your eyesight seems OK most of the time, an eye test can tell you if the problem lies with your eyes (you may be developing cataracts) or whether it is due to an underlying health condition such as diabetes. Having an eye test can check out your eyes and your optician will recognise and tell you of any warning signs of other illnesses and may recommend that you see your GP for further tests.
Do you eyes water or are they often red?
This can be a problem caused by eye strain and rubbing your eyes but it can also indicate chronic conjunctivitis. An eye test looks at the general health of the eyes and if you have a low-grade infection that needs some eye drops to clear it up, your optician will let you know and advise you on the best thing to do.
Although eye tests are no longer free for everyone, the usual cost is still only around £15 and an annual eye test can prove invaluable for the health of your eyes and for your more general well being.