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The Importance Of An Eyetest

Many people still only visit the opticians when there is a noticeable change with their sight rather than making it a regular health check up. Opticians recommend an eye test every two years, or every year for certain groups of people, including children, diabetics and the elderly. 

Don’t forget the kids!
Although most children will get checked at school when they are about 5, they should still get yearly check-ups with an optometrist after this. As the eye is growing during these early years, and especially in teenage years, the focusing can change and long-sight, short-sight and astigmatism is common; maybe only noticed when your child is complaining about the school board being blurred, difficulty with reading, study or gaming due to eyestrain or headaches. In all children, especially those under 7 who need to wear spectacles, it is critical that they are wearing them and having regular checks to maximise their potential to achieve better visual development as they grow.

Drivers – Stay safe and legal
Just because you passed your driving test at 17, that doesn’t mean you will always maintain legal standards of vision! I see many drivers who think their distance vision is good enough, yet when tested fall short of the legal standard. Distance vision changes can be very gradual over many years, such that you may not even notice. Drivers, especially the elderly and HGV drivers, should be checked regularly and if advised to have driving spectacles, MUST wear them. If you were checked by the police and fail the number plate test, your licence and insurance is invalid and you could have lot of legal and financial trouble as a result of an accident. You should also inform the DVLA if you develop any problems that affect your ability to drive safely.

It’s more than just a vision check
Whilst the optometrist can measure your vision and decide if you need spectacles or not, the eye test also involves examining the eye for signs of ocular and systemic conditions. Cataracts (a clouding of the lens), Glaucoma (raised eye pressure causing optic nerve damage) and macular degeneration (damage or aging of the most sensitive area of the retina) can all be identified by studying the inside of the eye. But also systemic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol can be identified earlier by studying the blood supply to the retina. Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may cause ocular problems like iritis or uveitis.

We’re all getting older!
As you reach your mid-forties, you’ll tend to notice difficulties with near focus. Holding books further away or increasing the size of your text messages are typical first signs. If you are struggling with small print or getting eyestrain when you’re reading, there’s a good chance you need your first pair of reading spectacles. It happens to us all eventually! For the elderly, natural degeneration in the eye can cause focusing problems, especially with reading or far vision. This may be helped with spectacles, but may require specialist treatment if caused by cataracts or macular degeneration.


Martyn Allen is the owner-optometrist of Martyn Allen Opticians.
24 Moss Shaw Way, Radcliffe, M26 4NN

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