An eye test is more than meets the eye. Vision loss is a fear for many people, yet eye tests are often an after-thought. Studies show that some health conditions can be detected through eye tests. The NHS recommends that we get our eyes tested at least once every two years. An eye test does more than check your vision. However, you’ve heard that saying that “eye is the window to the soul”, and this couldn’t be more accurate, as the eyes are the window to the whole body! Therefore, an eye test can detect disease like diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, high blood pressure, and in some rare cases, even tumours.
How often should you get your eye tested?
According to the experts, if you are aged 16 to 69, you should be getting your eyes tested at least once every two years. If you are over 70 years of age, you will need more frequent testing to monitor your eyes’ health. If you have diabetes, glaucoma, or over 40 and a close blood relative of someone with glaucoma, your sight test interval will be at least every year.
Regular eye examinations are necessary because:
- Having your vision corrected will improve the quality of day-to-day life.
- It will help detect certain eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, leading to sight loss.
- Poor vision is a risk factor for all.
An optometrist may also be able to spot the signs of some broader health conditions with symptoms that affect the eyes, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Eye examinations for children are vital to ensure that any visual problems such as squint, lazy eye (amblyopia) or short-sightedness (myopia) are detected and treated early.
Keeping eyes healthy
Follow these necessary steps to help keep your eyes healthy
- Quit smoking
- Protect your eyes in bright sunlight or glare
- Eat well and exercise regularly
- Wear safety goggles to protect eyes while doing DIY and sporting activities
- Wear goggles when necessary in the workplace
- Taking regular breaks if working at a computer screen( You should follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eye strain)
If you do notice a change to your eyesight, contact your optometrist immediately.
Health Issues An Eye Test Can Identify
An eye test can also lead to early detection of various health issues affecting your body. Here are 20 health conditions that can be detected during a comprehensive eye examination:
- Brain tumour
- Cancers of blood, tissue or skin
- Giant cell arteritis
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lyme disease
- Medication toxicities
- Multiple sclerosis
- Myasthenia gravis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Sickle cell disease
- Sjögren’s syndrome
- Thyroid disease
- Vascular disease
- Vitamin A deficiency
What Happens During An Eye Test?
During an eye test, an optometrist checks for the following :
- Vision level
- If you need glasses to correct your sight
- Your eyes and the area around them will also be examined – to look for signs of injury, disease or abnormalities.
- Your retina will be examined.
- The level of your visual acuity will be assessed.
- The pressure inside your eye may also be measured.
Some health conditions can affect the eyes; it is essential to tell your optician if you have diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma or dementia. This list is not exhaustive, and please advise your optician of any conditions which may influence your eye health. An optometrist or ophthalmic medical practitioner will test your sight to check the quality of your vision and eye health, and you may also see a dispensing optician, who will fit your glasses. If you already wear glasses or contact lenses, remember to take them with you to your sight test. You will be asked to wear them during the test.
During an eye test, you may need to discuss your age, lifestyle and medical history.