Maintaining Eye Health

Eye tests are conducted by opticians who are easily found on any local high street. Your eyes are vital to your day to day life, providing you with images of the world around you that forms the basis of your awareness of your surroundings. Therefore a regular health check is definitely a good idea! An eye test is easy and convenient to arrange, and at the very least provides you with the assurance that all is well.

It is recommended that at the very least you have an eye test every two years and more frequently if at all possible. You should also arrange a test if you notice any change in your vision. Both these recommendations are applicable to everyone as visual issues can develop at any time, but certain groups run a higher risk of developing problems. These include people above the age of 60, people with a learning disability, and anyone with a family history of eye disease. Some ethnicities are more susceptible to certain diseases than others. Glaucoma and diabetes are highly incident in Afro-Caribbean communities for example, and is thought to be the result of genetic factors. Asian communities share the risk of diabetes, which can lead to progressive damage to the retina called retinopathy. As the retina is the part of the eye responsible for taking light and converting it into a signal that the brain can interpret as sight, any damage to this region is severe and taken very seriously.

While eye problems are more often a consequence of aging, children are not exempt from needing regular check-ups. Particularly as younger kids are less likely to notice or complain about any changes in their vision. There are a number of indicators to look out for that can signal the onset of a change in their vision. These include squinting, excessive blinking or eye rubbing, sitting closer to the television, and bringing books and other objects close to their face. In the event of any of these, it’s always advisable to take you child to an optician who can take a look at them and let you know what’s going on.

Do I have to pay for an eye test?

The NHS funds your eye tests if you are a child under 16, or aged between 16 and 18 and in full time education. Similarly if you are partially sighted, blind, or in need of complex lenses then your eye test is also free. People in possession of an HC3, HC2, or NHS Tax Exemption certificate and anyone over the age of 60 fit into the same category.

Lifestyle advice for eyes

Your optician is a professional who understands how your eyes work and what behaviors are best to maintain their health. At an eye test you can ask your optician for advice on how to maintain your visual health by adjusting your lifestyle. The kind of advice you might here would be to quit smoking as the habit increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration (damage to part of the retina called the macula) and cataracts (development of a film in the lens of the eye clouding vision). Exercise regulates your blood pressure which is great for eye health. Similarly health eating can maintain your retina, the part of your eye that receives light from your environment and converts it into a signal that your brain reads as an image. Finally, protecting your eyes from the sun by not looking at it directly and shielding them from harmful UV by wearing sunglasses are good ways to prevent unwanted damage.

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