The Importance Of Regular Eye Tests
No matter who we are or where we come from, one fear that we all have in common is the fear of losing our sight. Our vision is among the most precious assets we have, and yet, eye tests are often an afterthought. Testing isn’t only useful for identifying your prescription if you are long-sighted, short-sighted or astigmatic. It can also be useful for diagnosing a wide range of health conditions.
With this in mind, we’re taking a closer look at the importance of regular eye testing.
How often should I get my eyes tested?
Many people fail to get regular eye tests simply because they are unaware of how often they should actually have them. And for many people – particularly those who have never had a visual impairment or other problem with their eyes – the answer will likely come as a surprise.
The NHS recommends that most people have their eyes tested every 2 years. In some cases, your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist may even advise you to have a sight test even more frequently. But why should you have your eyes tested so frequently?
Unlike other parts of our bodies, our eyes often don’t give us much warning when something is wrong. Eye tests can offer great insight into not only the health of your eyes but also your overall health. They can be extremely important for diagnosing conditions such as glaucoma, diabetes, and macular degeneration.
The Benefits Of Regular Testing
It is currently estimated that around 80% of all blindness is preventable or treatable. In light of this, having a simple eye test on a regular basis really can make all the difference. Putting off eye tests (or even avoiding them altogether) could mean that early signs of various conditions go unnoticed and unexplored.
This means that you and your healthcare provider could miss a vital opportunity for early intervention – an opportunity that could have given you a better chance of a full recovery and helped to protect your vision.
What will I be tested for?
When you go for an eye examination, it’s not only your vision that will be assessed. Of course, your optician will assess any refractive error (your glasses prescription), but this is also an opportunity to look for things like amblyopia (lazy eye), eye alignment problems, and potentially sight-threatening diseases and disorders.
Often, your optician will pick up on abnormalities far sooner than your GP or a specialist because they can detect possible problems by looking through your eyes at your blood vessels and other working parts. So perhaps eyes are not only the window to your soul but also to your body.
It might be pretty obvious that eye tests can help to identify and diagnose conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. But thorough eye examinations can be useful in catching a number of more surprising health problems, including:
Diabetes is a fairly common condition that is characterised by a lack of insulin – a hormone that processes sugar (glucose). As a result, people with uncontrolled diabetes tend to have elevated blood sugar levels – a problem that can lead to various complications, including diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular oedema.
Eye tests can often help opticians to identify blood vessel leaks or swelling macular, both of which are early signs of diabetes.
Giant cell arteritis
Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a condition that causes inflammation of medium-sized arteries in the arms, upper body, and neck. These arteries also help to nourish the eyes. Inflammation of these arteries may therefore be linked to symptoms in the eyes, including blurred vision, double vision, or even vision loss in one or both eyes.
A comprehensive eye examination, including a visual acuity test, eye pressure test, and dilated eye exam, alongside blood tests, can be useful for the diagnosis of this condition. This can be extremely important as early intervention can help to prevent blindness and even death.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure can cause unusual bends, kinks, and bleeding from blood vessels at the back of the eye. It is estimated that around a quarter of adults worldwide are affected by high blood pressure which is a known risk factor in the onset and progression of various eye diseases, including glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.
Signs of high blood pressure may be identified during a dilated eye exam.
High cholesterol is another common health concern that is connected to a number of serious complications, including heart attack and stroke. Sustained high levels of cholesterol can also lead to problems with your eyes, such as blurry vision, the appearance of dark spots, and xanthelasma – the yellowing of the skin around the eyes.
A yellow or blue ring around the cornea can sometimes indicate high cholesterol, especially in people under the age of 40. It may also be possible to identify deposits in the blood vessels in the retina which may also indicate high cholesterol levels in the blood.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects various organs in the body, including the eyes. The condition can be associated with the development of iritis – a recurring, painful inflammation of the iris, as well as light sensitivity and dry eyes.
Maintaining your eye health can be extremely important not only for your vision but also for your overall health. At London Vision Clinic, we’re committed to providing our patients with the benefit of annual eye examinations following treatment at our Harley Street clinic.