Q. How often should I have an eye test?

A. Two years is the maximum time between eye tests and is appropriate for most people between the ages of 16 and 70 as recommended by the NHS. Older people, children, those with diabetes or at increased risk of glaucoma should be seen every year. Your optometrist may well recommend an early retest for other reasons or if there is any concern over other conditions such as early cataract.

Remember – you don’t have to wait for a reminder. If you are having problems or have any concerns about your eyes you can return for an eye test at any time.

Q. How can I ensure my eyes stay healthy?

A. There is increasing evidence to show that living and eating healthily helps to maintain healthy eyes and vision. In particular smoking has been shown to increase the risk of eye problems and even sight loss. Protection from UV light is important too, as excess UV in the long term is linked to earlier cataract formation and possible macular degeneration. A healthy diet including oily fish and brightly coloured fruit and vegetables is valuable and is being linked to improved macular health.

Six steps to keep your eyes and vision healthy.
  • Eat right for good sight!
    Nutrients found in many fruit, vegetables and fatty acids can help protect your sight.
  • Quit smoking or don’t start
    Smokers are up to four times more likely to develop macular degeneration (the UK’s leading cause of sight loss) than non-smokers.
  • Watch your weight
    Damage to blood vessels in the eye caused by excess body weight has been linked to the onset of glaucoma.
  • Cover up
    Cumulative exposure to the sun’s U.V. light increases your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Be screen smart
    Avoid eye strain by taking regular breaks
  • Get tested
    Get your eyes checked at least every two years (unless advised more frequently by your health care professional) even if you think your vision is perfect.
    Early detection is vital to prevent avoidable sight loss.

Q. How does Diabetes affect your sight?

A. Diabetes can cause damage to the back of your eyes and sight loss. When the condition is caught early, treatment is effective at reducing or preventing damage to your sight.

Everyone ages 12 and over with diabetes is offered screening once a year. Diabetic retinopathy is extremely unusual in children with diabetes who are under the ages of 12.

The check takes about half an hour and involves examining the back of your eyes, drops are inserted into both eyes to dilate the pupils and photographs taken of the retina.

Q. Does wearing glasses all the time make my eyes lazy?

A. No, all glasses will do is make you see more clearly and comfortably.

Q. What age should children be for an eye test?

A. Any age. Many health authorities screen children at around 3 years of age, but if you are concerned, or is there are any members of your family with eye problems, then it’s best to have your child’s eyes tested sooner.

Q. What is glaucoma?

A. Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, becomes damaged.

Glaucoma doesn’t usually have any symptoms to begin with and is only picked up during a routine eye test.

Your risk of getting glaucoma is linked to:

  1. Your age – more likely as you get older and can affect 1 In 10 people over 75
  2. Your ethnicity – people of African, Caribbean or Asian descent are at a higher risk of glaucoma.
  3. Your family history – you’re more likely to develop glaucoma if you have a parent or sibling with the condition.

Q. How should I clean my glasses?

A. Don’t use dry tissue! – this will cause fine scratches on your lenses, you can use soapy water and a soft cloth.

If your glasses have anti-glare coating they should only be cleaned with a special cloth and spray.

Q. Am I entitled to a free eye test or free glasses?

A. Many people are entitled to a free NHS-funded eye test, including everyone aged 60 or over. Those on various benefits, under 16’s or under 19’s in education, are entitled to the eye test and help towards their glasses. The full list is below:

You qualify for a free NHS-funded sight test if you come into one of the following groups:

  • You’re under 16, or under 19 in full-time education
  • You’re 60 or over
  • You’re registered as blind or partially sighted
  • You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • You’re 40 or over, and have a close relative with glaucoma
  • You’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • You’re a prisoner on leave from prison
  • You’re eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – we can advise you on this

You’re also entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • Receive Income Support
  • Receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

If you’re named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3), you may get some help towards the cost of your sight test.

You will also get a voucher towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if one of the following applies:

  • You’re aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education or
  • You’re eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician will advise on your entitlement)
  • You receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not contribution-based)
  • You receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • You receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • You’re entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • You are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
  • People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help

Here at R Millicans we offer a range of complete spectacles at the voucher price. You may of course decide you want to “trade up” – but if you have a voucher there will always be glasses you can have completely free. And even if you are not entitled to a voucher towards your glasses cost, there will always be budget choices available.