Frequently asked eye care questions
We've found that some eye care questions crop up more often than others. So we've listed the most frequently asked below.
If you can't find the information you need below, please don't hesitate to contact us.
» Why is an Eye test so important?
Your eyes cannot be replaced. You will not necessarily have any symptoms or pain. The eye test can pick up very early signs of any problems the earlier treated the better. The eye test can detect underlying health problems that you aren't aware of, such as Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, some brain tumours and multiple sclerosis. The eye test will detect if your vision can be improved. You may just be used to seeing less clearly so don't realise it can be improved upon. Good Vision gives a better quality of life. For children, it is essential that their eyes are functioning normally for them to perform well at school. Don't accept that poor vision is due to your age. It may be possible to improve it further. It is important your vision meets certain legal standards for driving and certain occupations.
» How often should I have my eyes tested?
Even if you are not aware of any problems you should have your eyes tested every 2 years. The eye test is a regular health check, which can detect underlying health problems as well as changes in your vision. It may need to be more frequent depending on you age and medical history. Your Optometrist will normally advise you when you should return for your next eye test and usually they will send a reminder letter to you.
» Do I have to pay for an Eye test?
The NHS provide FREE eye tests and help towards the cost of glasses for qualifying customers. Further information on whether you qualify for this support is available here. If you do not quality for NHS support you will have to pay for your eye test, which should cost between £15 and £28. NHS eye tests are free in Scotland.
Those in the following categories are entitled to an NHS eye test without charge and may also be entitled to a voucher to offset the cost of any spectacles or contact lenses prescribed: Children under 16 or under 19 still in full-time education. All those aged 60 and over and people receiving Income Support or Working Family Tax Credit.
Those receiving Disabled Person's tax credit if aged 70 or less, it will have been taken off the maximum credit shown on their tax credit award notice. Those receiving an income-based jobseekers allowance (Contributory ISA does not count), Diabetics Glaucoma sufferers and those who are aged 40 and over and are the parent/brother/sister/child of a person with glaucoma. Also, those diagnosed by a consultant ophthalmologist as being at risk of developing glaucoma. The blind and partially sighted People entitled to NHS complex lens vouchers and those who have a valid HC2 certificate. If you are not in the above categories you will have to pay for your eye test, which should cost between £15 and £28. NHS eye tests are free in Scotland.
» Why do I need an Eye test every 2 years if everything is always fine?
Eyes don't usually let you know that something is wrong. Any change is usually very gradual, so you become accustomed to the change in your vision. Therefore, regular eye tests are important to pick up any change as soon as possible to make sure any problem can be treated before it affects vision. The eye test detects many conditions earlier than waiting for symptoms to appear. The eye test does not just check whether you need glasses, but it can show a number of underlying health problems, such as diabetes and glaucoma, and the general condition of your eyes.
» Why do I need regular Eye tests if I'm diabetic?
Your Optometrist can detect early signs of diabetic retinopathy by looking inside your eyes. The earlier any changes are detected, the more likely it is they can be monitored and treated to prevent loss of sight. Early treatment is essential so an annual eye test is the best step you can take to protect your eyes. Your eye test will be paid for by the NHS. See our section on Diabetic Retinopathy.
» I'm diabetic but my vision hasn't changed. Why do I need an eye test every year?
Even if your vision appears unchanged, the tiny blood vessels on your retina may be changing. Your Optometrist can look for these early signs and they can be treated before they cause damage to your vision.
» How old does my child have to be before they can have their eyes tested?
Children can be tested at any age. It is recommended that an optometrist sees them before they start school and start learning to read. Often, vision problems can be the reason why a child does not perform well at school, for example because they cannot see the board. The earlier a problem is detected the more chance there is of successful treatment. Children's eyes are fully developed by the time they are 8 years old so it is very important to have any problems detected before this.
» Why does my child need to go to an Optometrist when they have their eyes checked at school?
Although they are checked at school, it is not a full eye test. Their distance vision is normally checked but this will not detect all levels of long-sight. Short sight and large squints may be detected, but the school checks are not usually carried out by an eye care professional. For a full Eye test you should take your child to a registered Optometrist. If left undetected for too long, some sight defects cannot be corrected.
» Am I entitled to my contact lens prescription from my Optician?
Your Contact Lens Optician will be happy to provide your contact lens specification once they have completed your fitting and initial aftercare visits. Please note that this means you may have to return to your Contact Lens Optician for more than one follow up visit in order for them to fully complete the fitting.
» I have astigmatism - can I still have contact lenses?
Astigmatism is caused when the eye does not focus light evenly. Contact lenses for astigmatism have been available for several years now. Most types of astigmatism can be corrected with contact lenses. Your Contact Lens Optician will take careful measurements of the exact shape of the surface of your eye and your prescription, and decide which type of contact lens will be most suitable for you. Often, due to these precise measurements, a specific lens will need to be ordered for you to try as they are harder to fit exactly to the eye. Even the new, daily disposable soft contact lenses will be available for astigmatic contact lens wearers in the not too distant future!
» If my contact lens specification has expired, can I still purchase contact lenses?
We will require a current, valid contact lens specification to supply your replacement contact lenses. We recommend that you should have an annual eye test and a contact lens check every 6 months, or more frequently, as advised by your Contact Lens Optician.
» Is there a high risk of eye infection if I wear contact lenses?
Only if you do not look after your contact lens correctly. This is why you have to ensure that the contact lens is completely sterile before you put it in your eye. Bacteria need 3 things to live; food, water and warmth all provided by your eye if they are in your contact lens! Soft lenses are filled with water so these organisms can therefore survive in them and in your contact lens storage case. If you use your contact lens solutions correctly, and follow the advice of your Contact Lens Optician, there is very little risk of infection. The importance of contact lens hygiene cannot be stressed enough. There are no shortcuts!
» My Contact Lens Optician has told me to only wear my contact lenses for 8 hours, but they still seem fine. Why do I have to take them out?
Your Contact Lens Optician will be aware of the health of your eyes and of any changes caused by the contact lenses. By looking at your eyes and your contact lenses your Contact Lens Optician can assess the health of your eyes. They will only tell you to reduce your wearing time if it is of benefit to you. Usually, there are signs that the eyes aren't getting enough oxygen, so by limiting the length of time you wear them, your eyes will be healthier in the long term.
» What is 'contact lens aftercare'?
This is an essential check-up that should be carried out by your Contact Lens Optician, usually every 6 months. Regular routine aftercare is essential to monitor the health of the eyes and to ensure your ongoing suitability to wear contact lenses. Regular visits also allow your Contact Lens Optician to keep you informed of the latest developments in contact lenses and to ensure that you are getting the best level of comfort and vision from your contact lenses.
» Why can't I use my spectacle prescription to buy contact lenses?
Your spectacle prescription is different to your contact lens specification. Additional tests and measurements are required to determine the correct lenses for your individual requirements.
» What shall I do if my contact lenses are uncomfortable?
Always remember: if in doubt take them out! There are several reasons why your contact lenses might feel uncomfortable. You should make an appointment to see your Contact Lens Optician. They will be able to examine the contact lenses and see if there is any damage or deposits, which could be making them uncomfortable. If the contact lenses are still in good condition, there may be something irritating your eyes and making the lenses uncomfortable. Your Optometrist or Contact Lens Optician will be able to discuss this with you.
» Why do I get a new storage case when I collect my solutions? - The one I'm using is still OK
A dirty case is a major source of infection. It should be replaced frequently and cleaned regularly. Once you have put your contact lenses in the storage case should be rinsed and left open to air-dry. There is no point stockpiling contact lens storage cases! You are given a new one for a reason - so start with a new case as often as you can.
» Why do I still need glasses when I wear contact lenses?
Most people cannot leave their contact lenses in all day, every day, and expect their eyes to remain healthy. It is best to let your eyes breathe normally at least every evening and preferably one whole day a week, by not wearing your contact lenses. Therefore, you need up to date glasses to use. Also, your eyes may feel irritated by the contact lenses or you may get an eye infection, in which case you would need glasses to wear instead. If you do not have up to date glasses, you become tempted to keep your contact lenses in for too long.
» Should my employer pay for my glasses now I use a computer?
This is not the case and regularly leads to confusion, although really it is straightforward. If you regularly use a VDU as part of your work your employer must provide a regular full eye test free of charge. They are only obliged to pay for a pair of basic glasses if it is shown that they are specifically for VDU use. That is, if you use them at any other time, your employer does not have to pay for them, in the same way as they do not pay for the shoes you wear at work!