The Eye Test

The eye test - woman having an eye test

Contents

Why eye tests are so important

An eye examination is not just a sight test.

An eye test can detect serious health conditions including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. With an Ocular Coherence Tomographer (OCT), it can also detect other health conditions such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disase
  • cancer
  • brain tumours
  • multiple sclerosis

To find out more about eye health conditions, visit our download section where we have a selection of information sheets.

As well as measuring for any prescription you may require for glasses or contact lenses, we will also conduct various tests for a full range of general health conditions that can be monitored at the back of your eyes.

At your first appointment, records will be kept that will allow us to monitor even the smallest changes on subsequent visits. This is why an eye test is important, even if you do not need glasses.

Everyone is advised to have an eye test every two years, or more frequently if recommended by the optometrist. This could be the case if you have a family history of eye conditions.

Regular eye tests are important because:

  • eye diseases can be detected before affecting your sight
  • early detection ensures prompt treatment
  • any prescription for spectacles stays up-to-date.

During the eye test

We use the latest technology to provide a thorough service.

During your eye test, you will:

  1. Be asked about your general sate of health and about any medication you are taking.
  2. Be tested to see if you need a new prescription.
  3. Have the health of the inner and outer eye checked to ensure they are healthy.
  4. Receive additional tests for various eye conditions, such as glaucoma, depending on your individual needs.
  5. Be asked questions about how you use your sight, e.g. driving, work, hobbies, sports, etc.

After the eye test

Your optometrist will tell you about the standard of your vision, the health of your eyes and any individual visual requirements you may have. You will be told whether glasses are required and what to use them for. You will be advised when your next eye test is due, and will either be given a copy of your prescription or a statement confirming that you do not need glasses.

If glasses are required, you will see the dispensing optician who will advise on frame styles and lens types suitable for your lifestyle, visual needs and prescription.

We will send you a reminder when you are next due for an eye test. If you have any questions before then, please feel free to contact us.

We look forward to looking after your sight.

We use the best technology available

All of the practices have an Ocular Coherence Tomographer, or OCT (with the exception of Leigh-on-Sea which has an Optomap, which is similar). Until very recently, this highly useful technology was only seen in eye hospitals such as Moorfields. Observatory and Wardale Williams were very early adopters of this technology. You can now benefit from significantly improved diagnostic techniques that can spot dangerous eye conditions up to five years sooner than previously possible.

The OCT allows us to take 3-dimensional scans of the back and front of your eye, similar to an MRI scanner. The procedure is comfortable, non-invasive and the image is captured in seconds – nothing touches your eyes.

The images show exceptional detail and show changes that are too small to be seen by the eye. The OCT allows you to be aware of changes in your eyes before any symptoms appear, giving you advanced warning and early intervention.

What are the benefits of OCT?

A permanent and extremely accurate record can be kept of the condition of your eyes. Detection too small to be seen even using retinal photography can be picked up and compared year on year against previous 3D scans. This allows you to see what we see and to understand any changes taking place. This will all be explained to you. It also allows precise diagnostic levels of detail ensuring timely, accurate referral to a consultant surgeon or hospital, should that be necessary.

Who should have OCT?

Everyone who wants the best available eye care but particularly if you:

  • Are over 40 years old
  • Have a family history of eye problems
  • Diabetic, even if you already attend a screening service
  • Have any general health problems that may affect the eyes
  • Have ever had an abnormality detected using any other method.
The eye test - optometrist with 3D scanner

NHS entitlement

Changes in NHS regulations mean that we may require evidence of NHS eligibility.

Please bring along your NHS card or benefits booklet as evidence of entitlement. NHS eye tests are carried out at intervals specified by the NHS. This is usually, but not always, two years. An eye test within that interval may incur a charge.

Who qualifies for NHS glasses vouchers?

  • Children under 16 years
  • Full time students under 19 years
  • Those receiving Income-based benefits, e.g. Income Support, Working Families Tax Credit, Income Based Job Seeks Allowance and Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Those holding Form HC2/3
  • Complex lenses (partial help)
  • Persons not in the above list but on low income may still get help. Please ask for Form HC1 in advance of your appointment.

Who qualifies for an NHS eye test?

  • All on the above list
  • Over 60 year olds
  • People with diabetes or glaucoma
  • People over 40 with immediate family history of glaucoma
  • Those registered blind or partially sighted

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about an Eye Test

Everyone is advised to have an eye test at least every two years, or more frequently if recommended by the optometrist. This could be the case if you have a family history of eye conditions.

It depends on who the patient is. A young, healthy person with no apparent problems will take about 30 minutes. Someone older, perhaps with high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma or other ailments can take much longer. The ophthalmic optician will determine what clinical tests are needed to provide the correct information for new glasses or contact lenses. If necessary, they may refer the patient for a medical opinion.

Yes. A contact lens check doesn’t test for a range of health conditions that can only be detected at the back of your eyes. A contact lens check looks at the front surface of the eye and checks your vision with lenses in.

We also need to ensure that your prescription is up to date. Contact lens prescription are different from glasses prescriptions, as contact lenses sit on the surface of the eye whilst your glasses rest on your nose.

A contact lens prescription lasts for up to two years, but our optometrist will advise if you need to have more regular checks, depending on your individual eyes.

If you are already a patient at Obsevatory, you only need to bring your current glasses and/or contact lenses and an up-to-date list of medication you are taking.

If you are a new patient, please bring your current glasses and/or contact lenses, an up-to-date list of medication, any previous optical prescriptions if you have these, any information about a history of eye problems (e.g. letters from consultants); your GP’s details and your NHS number.

No. When people wear the proper glasses they realise they can see more clearly and comfortably. What they may have considered normal and acceptable before is now inferior by comparison.

Yes. Diabetes can cause severe problems with your sight. It is very important that your eyes are checked every year, preferably with drops to dilate the pupil, so that the retina (back of the eye) can be examined thoroughly.

Any age really. A child’s eyes have finished developing by the time they are about eight years old. Some health authorities screen children in their area at around three years of age, although this is becoming rarer. If you are concerned, or if there are any members of your family with eye problems, then it’s best to have your child’s eyes tested. Children do not need to be able to read to have eye test.

If there is glaucoma in the family, you may be more at risk of developing it. Glaucoma can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in time, so be sure to have a regular eye examination. If you have a close relative with glaucoma and you are over 40, your eye test will be funded by the NHS.

If you’ve had your eyes checked and they are as good as you think, then your practitioner will have no objection to you having plain or tinted lenses in a frame of your choice, or contact lenses that can enhance or change the colour of your eyes.

If you have plastic lenses in your glasses then dry tissues will scratch them. It is better to use soapy water and a soft cloth. Glasses with anti-glare coatings should be cleaned with a special cloth and spray which we always provide free with your purchase.