We provide comprehensive eyecare for all age groups – from infants to the elderly. With the aid of cutting-edge technology such as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and retinal photography we are able to provide a thorough assessment of your eye health and determine the best form of vision correction to meet your day-to-day needs.
Our practice is currently listed as one of the few in the area to be NHS-accredited to perform specialist optometric assessment, such as glaucoma referral refinement.
Why are sight tests so important?
Many people think that an eye examination is just about checking whether your vision needs correcting with spectacles or contact lenses. Whilst this is important there are other important reasons to have a regular sight test.
A sight test is a vital check on the health of the eyes and includes the detection of eye conditions. Many of these, if found early, can be treated successfully, avoiding potential sight loss.
A sight test can also detect other health conditions such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes and increased risk of stroke.
Who needs a regular sight test?
Everybody! Eye examinations should be part of everyone’s health care routine just like going to the dentist. Remember, children are never too young to have their eyes checked. We have special tests at our disposal that allow us to examine even the youngest of children.
How often should I have an eye examination?
It is very important to have regular eye examinations to stop your eyes becoming damaged by undiagnosed conditions. As a general rule most people should have their sight tested once every two years, unless advised otherwise. Certain groups of people may need their eyes checked more frequently, such as those people with a family history of glaucoma and those aged 70 and over.
It is very important for drivers and people whose eyesight may be affected by their occupation, such as those who use computer monitors, to have regular eye examinations.
Children should also have regular eye examinations. This is because it is very important that visual problems are diagnosed early so that learning and other developmental problems can be prevented.
What happens during an eye examination?
For new patients to the practice we allow 40 minutes for a full eye examination. This is because we like to take our time and be thorough. During your visit we will tailor the examination according to your individual circumstances, taking into account factors such as your age, medical history and lifestyle.
- Things normally start off with a chat about your eyes and how well you are seeing.
- We will build up what is called a ‘symptoms and history’ to determine exactly what tests are required and highlight any particular areas that need to be focussed on.
- Most visits will require some form of visual acuity measurement (reading letters from a chart). We use an advanced computer chart which has randomised test targets, videos and various other additional tests to make life easier. Gone are the days of the white board with letters on it!
- Most sight tests will involve some form of refraction. This is essentially a measurement of the prescription of each eye. In most cases this is performed objectively using a special computer called an auto-refractor and subjectively with either a trial frame of phoropter (a machine with lots of corrective lenses built in to measure your eyes).
- A detailed look inside your eyes is normally performed and this will involve the use of a special microscope called a slit-lamp biomicroscope. Where possible we try and utilise digital retinal photography to acquire a high resolution image of the back of your eye. This has a number of benefits, the main one being that it is easier to build up a digital history and detect subtle changes on the retina over time.
- Adult patients generally require a measurement of eye pressure as this is one of the key screening tests for glaucoma. We often use a gentler, more modern form of the ‘air puff’ test called rebound tonometry.
- Other important aspects of a full eye examination include an assessment of your binocular vision, colour vision and visual fields (peripheral vision). Some or all of these tests may be relevant depending on your ocular history and presenting symptoms.
What are the most common eye conditions that may be detected during an eye exam?
The detection of eye disease is one of the most important parts of any eye exam. Fortunately, serious sight-threatening ocular pathology is rare, but it is important to remember that half of all causes of registrable blindness in the U.K. could have been prevented. Here is a brief overview of the most common eye conditions encountered:
- Blepharitis – A common condition where the edges of the eyelids (eyelid margins) become red and swollen (inflamed). Blepharitis can often be associated with meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye.
- Conjunctivitis – Another common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye (the conjunctiva).
- Cataract – Cataracts occur when changes in the lens of the eye cause it to become less transparent. It is almost a natural part of the ageing process of the eye, but it can affect some people at a younger age than others and is not exclusive to the elderly.
- Glaucoma – This is an important condition which can affect sight, usually, but not always caused by a build-up of pressure within the eye itself. Contrary to common belief, it is often manageable and, to a certain extent, preventable if detected at an early enough stage. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the U.K.
- Age-related macular degeneration – AMD is a painless eye condition that causes the loss of central vision in one or both eyes. It is the most common cause of registrable blindness in the Western world.
- Diabetic retinopathy – This is a complication of diabetes, caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). It can cause blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Do I qualify for an NHS sight test?
30 million people in the U.K. are entitled to a free sight test paid for by the NHS. You are entitled to a free eye test NHS if:
- You are under 16 years of age.
- You are 16, 17 or 18 years of age and in full-time education.
- You are 60 years of age or over.
- You have been diagnosed with diabetes, glaucoma or ocular hypertension (raised pressure inside you eye).
- You are 40 years of age or over and a first-degree relative (your mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter) has been diagnosed with glaucoma.
- An ophthalmologist (eye specialist) has confirmed that you are at risk of developing glaucoma.
- You are registered as blind or partially sighted.
- You are prescribed complex lenses (lenses with a power of 10 dioptres or more or prism controlled bifocal lenses).
- Your sight tests are usually carried out through a hospital eye department, as part of your care for an existing eye condition.
- You are a war pensioner and you need the sight test because of a disability for which you receive a war pension.
Free eye tests are also available for those who:
- Receive Family Credit or Working Disability Allowance
- Receive Income Support or income-based (but not contribution-based) Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Receive Working Tax Credit and are named on a tax credit NHS exemption certificate
- Receive Child Tax Credit and are named on a tax credit NHS exemption certificate
- Are named on an NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
Those who are named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help with the cost of their eye test.
You may also be entitled to a voucher towards the cost of any eyewear prescribed. One of our professional staff will be able to advise you of your eligibility for the NHS voucher scheme and calculate exactly how much of a reduction your will receive.
Do you accept Eyecare vouchers?
If you regularly use a computer at work you may be entitled to a test paid for by your employer. This may be in the form of an Eyecare Voucher. If you are eligible then let Mark or Tracey know at the point of booking your appointment and bring your voucher with you on the day.
Are computer screens bad for my eyes?
According to recent research, the average person of working age spends 2740 hours (or three and a half months) a year staring at a computer screen. So it is probably no surprise that 90% of computer users say that they regularly suffer from screen fatigue – headaches, sore or tired eyes and problems with close-up and long-distance vision.
There are several things you can do, aside from having a regular eye examination, to minimise your risk of suffering visual stress and keep your eyes feeling fresh and bright:
- Take frequent breaks – Give your eyes a rest by following the 20-20-20 rule – Look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at an object or objects of interest at least 20 feet away.
- Create an eye-friendly environment – Position copy documents at roughly the same distance as your eyes are from the screen to avoid having to continually refocus and minimise any glare or reflections.
- Customise your screen settings – Position your monitor an arm’s length away and keep your eyes level with the top of the screen. Select a font size of 12pts or above and make sure you have a clean screen!
- Keep blinking! – Your blink rate can fall by up to 400% when working at a screen. For an instant refresh try closing your eyes and rolling your eyeball around behind the close lid.
More useful eyecare information:
How to insert eye drops:
What to do if you have flashing lights and floaters in your vision:
Nutrition and eye health:
Nutrition and Eye Health Key Facts PDF
AOP Patient Information Leaflets
- AOP AMD symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Blepharitis symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Cataracts symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Childrens eye health.pdf
- AOP Dry eye symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Flashes and floaters symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Glaucoma symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP MGD symptoms and treatment.pdf
- AOP Sight test patient leaflet.pdf
- AOP Top tips for healthy eyes.pdf
- AOP Whos Who symptoms and treatment.pdf