It goes without saying that regular sight tests are a must to stay on top of any vision problems. Even when we have been prescribed glasses or contact lenses, it’s important to visit an optometrist at least every 2 years to make sure the lenses are the right strength. What many people don’t realise is that regular full eye examinations are also vital.
As well as identifying vision problems, eye examinations are also important for detecting eye disease and range of general health problems; in many cases before you are even remotely aware of a problem existing. For people of all ages, regular full eye examinations are an important part of looking after your health, just as you would visit the dentist or a doctor.
Adults should attend eye examinations to ensure their prescriptions are up to date and to spot any signs of eye disease. Children on the other hand are less likely to understand what ‘normal’ vision is, so they are much less likely to complain of poor vision. Vision problems can lead to difficulties with schoolwork and other activities, so regular eye examinations can help ensure children don’t struggle at school or when involved with any other activities.
As well as evaluating your eyes for any vision problems that could require a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, an optometrist will also look for a wide range of other conditions:
- Eye diseases – checking your eyes inside and out for signs of any eye diseases is an essential part of an eye examination, as many diseases like diabetes and glaucoma have no symptoms in their early stages. If detected early, many eye diseases can be treated quickly, helping to reduce the risk of any long term vision loss.
- Other diseases – by looking closely at the eye, optometrists can often spot the early signs of other conditions and diseases. For example, by looking at the eye’s blood vessels, an eye doctor may be able to see if you are developing problems such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Refractive error – astigmatism, near sightedness and far sightedness are examples of refractive error and can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, or in some cases refractive surgery.
- Eye alignment issues – even when eyes appear to be aligned, it can be possible that they don’t work together. This can lead to problems such as eye strain and headaches as well as affecting some near vision tasks, for example, reading.
- Strabismus – strabismus is the term used for crossed or turned eyes. If the eyes aren’t working properly together, this can cause problems with depth perception and can lead to amblyopia…
- Amblyopia – often called lazy eye is when the eyes are misaligned or when the vision is poorer in one eye, resulting in the brain ignoring or suppressing the vision from the blurry or turned eye. It is important to have children tested regularly to monitor vision and try and ensure they do not develop amblyopia. If this is left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision impairment. Amblyopia is often treated by patching the stronger eye, allowing the weaker eye to improve its vision when it has to work harder.