Having an eye test

What is an eye test?

An eye test is carried out by an optometrist to assess your vision and eye health. It is made up of a series of tests where your eyes will be examined externally and internally.

How often should I have an eye test?

  • Regular tests are important because many blinding eye conditions are still incurable. However, if diagnosed early, they can be managed with success and treatment can avoid further vision loss for diseases such as glaucomadiabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Even if you don’t have any concerns about your eyes, you should get your eyes tested at least every two years as an adult, and every year as a child. 
  • If you already have an eye condition, have a family history of eye disease, or are affected by other health factors such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders, you may need an eye test more often (your optometrist will advise how often you should get your eyes tested). 
  • It is a good idea to have an eye exam at around the age of 40, when some degenerative eye diseases can often start to develop (but without symptoms for many years).  An eye exam at this time can establish what a healthy eye looks and feels like for you so that any changes in the future can be picked up quickly at follow up examinations. 
  • If you ever think something has changed with your vision at any point, don't delay in making an appointment for an eye exam. It could save your sight.

An eye test could save your sight

Some eye diseases progress so slowly that you may not even realise you are losing your sight until you may have lost up to 40% of your vision. 

Glaucoma, for example, is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it can cause irreparable damage to the optic nerve long before any symptoms become apparent. This is especially true of open-angle glaucoma.

The loss of peripheral (side) vision caused by glaucoma is so gradual that you may not even notice that you are adjusting to the imperceptible symptoms, for instance by turning your head from side to side to complete your field of vision.

Sadly, there is no cure for glaucoma, yet, and vision loss is permanent. However, early diagnosis is key to ensuring that you preserve as much sight as possible. Treatments exist to arrest the progression of the disease and they are most effective if they are started when you are not yet experiencing symptoms of vision loss.

If you are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, it is important that you have an eye test every year to have your intraocular pressure monitored (that’s the pressure inside your eye). Your optician can advise if you need to have a hospital eye examination for further investigation and agree adequate treatment, if necessary.

Regular eye checks could save your sight

What happens in an eye test

History and symptoms

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At the start of your eye test, your optician will ask you some questions about your general health, any medication you are taking, any issues you have noticed with your eyes or vision, any past treatments you have had for your eyes and any history of eye conditions in your family.

The tests

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The tests carried out by your optician may vary. See our Common eye tests page for information on some of the tests you may have during your appointment.