Click below to see answers to commonly asked questions
Why do I keep seeing spots in front of my eyes?
Spots (often called floaters) are small, semi-transparent or cloudy specks or particles within the vitreous (the clear, jelly-like fluid that fills the inside of your eyes). They appear as specks of various shapes and sizes, threadlike strands or cobwebs. They move as your eyes move and seem to dart away when you try to look at them directly. They can result from deterioration of the vitreous fluid due to aging or from certain eye diseases or injuries. Most spots are not harmful and rarely limit vision. But, spots can be indications of more serious problems, so if you have a sudden or new onset of them it may be advisable to have them checked by your local Vision Express optician.
I have noticed that small print has become blurry lately. Do I need glasses?
Presbyopia is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Presbyopia is a natural condition normally related to age. Common signs include difficulty in concentrating and maintaining a clear focus on near objects such as books or magazines, eye strain, fatigue and/or headaches after close work. It can easily be corrected by 'reading glasses' or varifocals prescribed by your local Vision Express optician.
What is 'night blindness'?
Night blindness, also called nyctalopia or nyctanopia, is a medical condition that affects a person's vision, particularly at night or in an area with little to no light. In addition to having difficulty seeing at night, a person with night blindness may have difficulty seeing when moving from a brightly lit area to one that is dimly lit. As a result, individuals with night blindness generally experience difficulty driving at night or in the evening. It maybe that you require a small prescription to improve your vision in dark conditions. Poor nutrition, specifically a deficiency in vitamin A, can also cause night blindness although other causes such as cataracts or a problem with the retina can also contribute. If you think you may be suffering from this condition, an eye test at your local Vision Express Optician may help to discover the root cause of it and suggest some measures to minimize or correct the effects.
Is it safe to wear contact lenses continuously?
Extended wear contact lenses fell out of favour briefly because of reports indicating that they could contribute to eye infections. However, extended wear contact lenses are designed specifically for overnight use and are also far more permeable, which ensures that the surface of the eye doesn't dry out, ensuring plenty of oxygen gets to the eye - thus reducing the risk of potential damage to your eye. Extended wear contact lenses are generally more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Cleanliness is essential when using contact lenses, so make sure that you use the correct fluid to keep your lenses in, that your hands are clean when inserting or removing contact lenses and that you have your eyes checked regularly. Any changes in the condition of your eyes should be brought to the attention of your optician. You should always throw out solutions as directed that are past their usage dates and change cases regularly. If you experience any red eye or irritation remove the contact lens and bring them and the case to your Optician.
How often should I have an eye test?
You should have your eyes checked regularly - at least every two years. However, those suffering from Glaucoma or diabetes may need their eyes tested and checked more regularly. If you start to suffer from headaches, double vision or blurred vision, or experience any abnormality in your vision an immediate eye test is advisable.
How good are "over the counter" reading glasses ("Ready Readers")?
OTC Reading glasses do not take into account certain important factors such as the distance between your pupils, any presence of an astigmatism, prescribed prism and anisometropia (a condition were the refractive errors greatly differ for each eye). Both lenses on OTC Readers are the same prescription and do not take into account the differences in each eye. Although OTC reading glasses are cheap, they may not be the correct prescription for your eyes, so it is advisable to have an eye test to see if prescription glasses would be more beneficial.
Can an eye test help to spot the early signs of diabetes?
The simple answer is yes. An estimated 750,000 people in the UK have diabetes but don't know it, according to Diabetes UK. If untreated, the life-threatening condition can lead to impaired vision or even blindness. An eye test can reveal the signs of diabetes. Over time a high blood-glucose level can weaken and damage the tiny blood vessels next to the retina. Your local Vision Express Optician may be able to spot what's known as a 'dot haemorrhage' or tiny leak from a damaged blood vessel, which is one of the indications of diabetes. If you think you may be diabetic it is also important to have regular general health checks as an eye test alone may not be sufficient in diagnosing this condition.
My optician mentioned age-related macular degeneration. What is this?
The macula is located at the back of the eye at the centre of the retina. It enables us to see fine detail and objects directly in front of us. It also helps us to recognize faces and see colours. Dry AMD is the most common form of the condition, with cells in the retina failing to function properly as a person gets older. Tiny abnormal deposits, called drusen, are deposited under the retina, making it uneven. In time, retinal cells can degenerate and die causing sight loss. This occurs very gradually over many years, hence the term 'age-related'.
Wet AMD accounts for 10 - 15% of cases. It often develops quickly and is also known as 'neovascular AMD' because it involves the growth of new blood vessels behind the retina. These new blood vessels are very fragile and so may leak fluid or blood, resulting in scarring that causes rapid visual loss. If you notice any change in your sight, we advise that you see your optician as soon as possible.
What can a digital retinal photograph tell me about my eyes?
A digital retinal photograph is a high-resolution, digital photograph of the central 30 degrees of the retina. This portion of the retina includes the optic disc (where the optic nerve joins the retina) and the fovea, which is the central part of the macula and the most sensitive part of the retina.
Your Vision Express optician uses this photograph to allow you to see what we can see and to create a photographic record of your eye health. A comparison can then be made at your next eye test to see if there have been any fundamental changes within the eye.
I've been told I suffer from astigmatism. How can I correct this?
Astigmatism can usually be compensated for easily with glasses or contact lenses. If your spectacle lens prescription contains three parts rather than one, your optician has found some astigmatism in one or both of your eyes. Developments in contact lens technology, now means that soft toric contact lenses can correct astigmatism as well as glasses.
What is the difference between bifocal and varifocal glasses?
Varifocal and Bifocal lenses usually have distance and reading powers to correct presbyopia. Varifocal lenses allow you to see near and far objects ( and all distances in-between)using just one pair of glasses. Unlike bifocals, there's no visible line on the surface of the lens (Bifocal lenses contain only two prescription powers in one lens).
With Varifocals it doesn't matter whether you're reading a book, watching TV or driving, as you'll you only ever need one pair of glasses, making them convenient for people who would otherwise have to carry two pairs of glasses.
There's a history of glaucoma in my family. Am I at risk of developing this disease?
If there is glaucoma in the family, then statistically you may be more at risk of developing it, particularly if you are a smoker. Glaucoma can often be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in time, so it is essential to notify your optician if you know of any history of glaucoma in your family. They may recommend more regular eye tests to make sure any early symptoms are picked up quickly.
If you are over 40 and your Mother, Father, Sibling or children have been diagnosed with Glaucoma you will receive an eye test free of charge under the NHS.
I've noticed I've started having to squint to see distant objects. What's the problem?
If seeing close objects is easy but you are finding it difficult to see distant ones, you may be suffering from myopia or short sightedness. This is a common condition and can be easily corrected by your optician with prescription glasses or contact lenses. It is particularly important to check your eyesight regularly, as not only can it deteriorate over time, but if you drive there are legal requirements that you must be able to read a standard car number plate over a certain distance. Driving with poor eyesight is hazardous both to you and other road users, so if distant objects are becoming blurry, see your local Vision Express optician today. They may be able to eliminate other possible problems with a simple eye test.