Regular eye tests are important because they include a general health check that can pick up early signs of eye disease before you're aware of any symptoms.
Your eyes don't usually hurt when something is wrong. A sight test is a vital health check for your eyes that can pick up early signs of eye conditions before you're aware of any symptoms, many of which can be treated if found early enough. Optometrists recommend that most people should get their eyes tested every two years. However, in some circumstances, they may recommend more frequent NHS sight tests; for example, if you:
- Have a child who wears glasses;
- Have diabetes;
- Are aged 40 or over and have a family history of glaucoma; or
- Are aged 70 or over.
Some people are entitled to a free NHS-funded eye test. To find out if you are one of them, please visit NHS Choices.
If you don't qualify for a free NHS sight test, you will have to pay for a private sight test, these start around £20. To find your local Optometrists, please click here.
Eye Screening Tests for Children
All babies will have an eye screening at birth and again at about six weeks of age by a GP or health visitor. During their first year at school, your child should have an eye test to screen for 'lazy eye'. The screening is to detect whether a child has reduced vision in one or both eyes.
Children should have an eye test every two years, as problems can occur at any age. Certain behaviours can be a sign that there is a problem such as:
- Sitting too close to the TV or insisting on watching TV in the dark;
- Rubbing their eyes a lot;
- Holding objects very close to their face;
- Blinking a lot;
- Showing signs of a squint - the eyes don't look into the same direction. One eye may turn inwards, outwards, upwards or downwards, while the other eye looks forward; or
- Problems navigating in the dark e.g. entering a tunnel or the cinema.
Even if none of the symptoms above is displayed, there could still be an underlying eye condition so it is important for your child's eye sight to be checked every two years.
Don't worry about the costs, as all NHS sight tests are free for children under the age of 16 and children do not need to be able to read to have a sight test. To find your local Optometrists, please click here.