Eye Tests at an Optician’s

It is generally recommended that you go for a check up at an optician’s every year at the very least. A regular, routine test is a great way to keep track of your eye health and can help you pick up any deterioration in vision that you yourself may not have noticed.

What happens during an eye test?

An eye test in the UK is generally conducted in any one of a number of high street optician’s. Here a qualified and licensed professional will be responsible for examining your eye. The practitioner responsible for your eye test is more accurately referred to as an optometrist, as this is the individual who conducts the eye test as well as prescribes you any corrective lenses. Strictly speaking an optician, or dispensing optician, is only qualified to prepare these lenses, however for the purpose of this article we will stick to the popular convention, referring to an optometrist as an optician.

Your optician will begin the eye test by asking about any visual problems you may have had, your existing glasses (if you have any), your general health, and your family history. After establishing these important details, your eye test will begin with a simple chart test. This is a simple test that you might be familiar with, you will be asked to read letters that gradually diminish in size. If you find yourself getting to a point where you can’t clearly read the letters on the chart, don’t worry, that’s the point of the test! Your optician is using this as a means to determine the limits of your vision. A common variation of this test uses pictures.

After this initial stage your optician will shine a bright light near your eyes and ask you not to blink. This may be slightly uncomfortable, but rest assured in that it won’t last long. The purpose of this step is to look at the front of your eyes and judge their reaction to light. Afterwards your optician will proceed to examine the back of your eye using a tool called an ophthalmoscope, which is a non-invasive piece of equipment that allows for a thorough examination of the backs of your eyes.

An eye test may also involve testing your colour vision to establish any colour blindness, a condition in which your eyes might have trouble distinguishing some colours, typically reds and greens, but this tends to be optional, and an optician who you’ve seen before might choose not to conduct this test. The most important stages are the eye chart test and the examination of the eye. If your vision is found to be impaired, then your optician will repeat the chart test, but this time using a complex looking piece of equipment that is simply a frame on which they will mount a range of lenses. The point of this is to find the right lens to adjust your vision, and from this information your optician will write you a prescription if necessary.

What happens after an eye test?

If your optician suggests that you need corrective lenses, they will first discuss with you whether you would like to opt for contact lenses, worn directly on the eye, or spectacles, worn on supporting frames in front of your eyes. Depending on your choice, your optician will discuss your options with you.

Spectacle lenses require a frame which most opticians will also supply. You will be left to choose your own frame, with perhaps some advice from the optician if your lenses will be particularly thick. After choosing your frame, your optician will generally discuss lens options with you. These can include such things as anti-reflective coating which can relieve eye strain, tinting, and more recently, transition lenses, which darken as the environment brightens.

An optician is trained to help you through these stages, but the specific choices are completely up to you. After you’ve made your decisions, all that remains is to wait for your glasses to arrive at the optician’s for collection!

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