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Frequently Asked Questions

This page has a list of general questions. Alternatively you can see FAQs on:

The Eye Examination
Contact Lenses

I can see perfectly, why should I have my eyes tested?

An eye examination is not just a vision test. Eye tests save lives as well as sight!

There are a lot of conditions that can affect the eyes without causing noticeable sight loss. An eye examination can also detect health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer.

Glaucoma is a condition that can cause devastating sight loss if it goes undetected, but the early signs of glaucoma happen so gradually that you might not notice them until it is too late. The damaged sight cannot be brought back.

You may not be able to see as well as you think you can! Long distance vision is very difficult to judge accurately and we frequently examine people who think they have good vision but who fail to meet the legal standard for driving.

What have family eye & health problems got to do with my eyesight?

Lots of eye conditions run in the family, as do lots of health problems.

If you have close relative with glaucoma, early cataract or age related macula degeneration you may be more at risk of developing it yourself. We will therefore recommend more frequent eye examinations. If you have a family history of diabetes or heart problems you may be more at risk from these conditions.

We can look out for specific changes in your eyes which might tell us that you are developing the condition. Early detection of these problems means that you stay healthier for longer and the eyes can often tell us that a problem has occurred before you even get any symptoms.

Why do my children need their eyes tested? They have an eye test at school don’t they?

Not all schools do eye tests now! Even those that do them only perform a very basic vision test. They do not check the health of the eyes or how well the eyes work as a pair.

Children grow very fast and their eyes can change quite a lot in 6 months so regular tests are needed. This is especially important if there is a family history of eye problems such as short sightedness. A full eye examination will test the following:

Distance vision
Near vision
Colour Vision
Binocular Vision (How well the eyes work together as a pair)
Eye movements
Health of the eyes

Even if a child can see well in the distance they may have problems with close tasks. Any problem with reading can have a serious impact on a child’s ability to learn and uncorrected vision problems can even affect their behaviour.

Children do not always know that they cannot see properly as they have nothing to compare their vision to. We often see children who have poor vision in one eye but had no idea that this wasn’t normal!

A lazy eye that is treated before the age of 10 can often be corrected, giving useful vision in adult life. A lazy eye that goes undetected until the child becomes a teenager will, in most cases, always be a weaker eye. A lazy eye can have significant consequences for a child’s career. 

Why have I been told that I have dry eyes when they are watering all the time?

Dry eye is a very complex issue and the following is a somewhat simplified explanation.

Tears are there all the time and stop the eyes from drying out as well as protecting them from infection. If the tears are too watery to moisturise the eyes you get dry eyes and wet cheeks! Water is not a good moisturiser for the eye.

Healthy tears contain things called lipids and proteins, they are not just salt water. If you do not have the right balance of lipids in your tears the tears cannot do their job properly. This can result in soreness, a feeling of tiredness or blurry vision. The eye reacts by producing watery tears to “wash out” whatever is causing the soreness. This can create an endless cycle of discomfort and watering.

You can use artificial tears to try and break this cycle and retain a good healthy layer of tears. Recent research has shown that regular daily use of artificial tears is much more beneficial than just using them when you get symptoms. Prevention is better than cure!

If your eyes get to the watery stage they may have been drying out for some time. Prolonged dryness is not just uncomfortable, it can lead to permanent damage to the eye so is best avoided.

Many things can cause tear problems, the most common ones being age, hormonal changes and poor general health.

Your eyes need a good healthy layer of tears to protect them and to give good clear vision. Tear problems do not always cause discomfort, they can cause blurred or variable vision and this can vary from day to day.

You should always consult your optometrist if you have a sore, red or watery eye. There are many reasons why eyes water and delayed treatment could damage your eyes.

Why do you need to see my previous spectacles?

There are several reasons why it is useful for us to examine and measure your previous spectacles, especially if it is the first time you have been to our practice. Here are a few of the key reasons.

We can only advise if your prescription has changed if we know what you are already wearing. If you do not have your last written prescription we can measure your spectacles to gain this information If you are experiencing glare problems it could be because your lenses are scratched. You may not be able to see these scratches if you cannot see clearly without the spectacles on.

If you are wearing varifocal lenses we may be able to identify the make of lens so that we can use the same type. This is especially important if you have been having difficulties with your varifocals as a different make could solve the problems. Not all varifocals are equal!

If you have had difficulties with your spectacles we can assess the position and fit of them to see if this is the cause of the discomfort.

What has my general health got to do with my eyes?

The short answer is "everything".

Many health problems can cause visual problems. If you are having problems with your eyes or your vision we can often link that to a health problem.

A few examples of eye / health links are listed below but this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Rheumatoid arthritis – Dry eyes
Diabetes – Variable and / or blurred vision
Migraine – Visual disturbances
Head injuries – double / blurred vision
Sinusitis – pain around the eyes
High Blood Pressure – leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye
Menopause – Tear problems leading to dry eye and / or blurry vision 

Why do you need to know what medication I am taking?

All medication has the potential to cause unwanted side effects in some people.(Have a look at the list of potential side effects listed on the sheet in a box of Paracetamol – it makes you wonder if getting rid of a headache is really worth the risk!)

Some medicines and tablets are known to cause specific ocular side effects.

They are too numerous to list here but the information is always written on the sheet of paper accompanying your tablets. We need to know what you are taking so that we know which side effects you may be experiencing.

Some medication comes with specific ocular warnings meaning that more regular examinations are recommended whilst you are taking it. For example;

Prolonged high doses of steroids and some anti malarial tablets require frequent eye examinations as complications must be spotted as early as possible.

Why do you ask about my job?

Knowing what job you do tells us how you use your eyes.

Different people have different visual requirements and will need different solutions to their visual problems. We can only give the correct advice on what spectacles or contact lenses will suit you best if we know what you need them to do.

For example;

A landscape gardener will need good protection against UV to prevent damage to the eyes, but may not need very good vision close up.

An office worker will need good close up vision and may need specific computer spectacles, but may not be too bothered about their distance vision whilst they are in the office.

Decorators, plumbers and carpenters often find that varifocal lenses are no good at work because they are not always able to look through the correct part of the lens to see close up.

Bifocals can make going up and down ladders difficult so may not be suitable for roofers and builders.

Why do you need to know what my hobbies are?

If we know what you want from your vision correction we can give you the best advice.

For example

Golf – Bifocals and varifocals can interfere with the correct head position needed for a good swing. Golfers often prefer separate distance spectacles or contact lenses for playing.

Team Sports – Spectacles are not a good idea on the pitch so contact lenses or protective goggles would be a better solution.

Racquet Sports – It is not easy to follow a ball accurately with bifocals or varifocals so contact lenses or separate distance spectacles are often much better. Squash balls are just big enough to fit into the eye socket and can do massive damage to the eyes, so protective goggles are available and recommended.

Swimming – prescription goggles are available so you can see what is going on around you at the pool.

Painting / Drawing – Reading glasses are often focussed too close for painting and drawing. Spectacles or contact lenses can be focussed to take this different working distance into account.

Model making – this often requires very small detailed work held much closer than a book or magazine. Stronger spectacles focussed exactly where you want to hold your work can make this much easier.

What do things that happened when I was a child have to do with my eyes now?

Accidents or injuries as a child can leave scars which will be visible to an optometrist for the rest of your life. If we know what caused them we do not have to worry. If we don’t know what caused them we might refer you to the hospital unnecessarily.

Wearing spectacles or a patch, or having to do eye exercises as a child, tells us that you might have a lazy eye. If we find that the vision in one eye is worse than the other and cannot be corrected we need to know why. If we do not know your history we may refer you unnecessarily.