Eye Test Explained

Eye tests play a huge part in making sure your eyes stay healthy. Not only are they important for indicating whether you need to start wearing glasses or need to change your prescription, but also for detecting some common eye conditions such as cataractscloudy vision and floaters.

How often should you go for an eye test?

We recommend that you have an eye test at least every two years. If your optometrist doesn’t have any concerns about your vision or eye health, adults should have one every two years, and children should visit every year.

But if you are ever concerned about your vision, at any point, then just book an appointment and we can take a look.

Some people may be at a higher risk of developing problems with their sight, including:

  • Those with a family history of glaucoma
  • Those aged 40 or over
  • Those aged 60 or over

If you fall into these categories, it’s worth speaking to your optician to find out how often you should have your eyes tested.

The eye test process

An eye test is more than checking your vision, it’s an overall eye health check, inside and out.

Eyes can be affected by a number of conditions which may be picked up early through an eye test, giving it less chance of affecting your vision. Your eyes can even indicate signs of general health problems like hypertension and diabetes. Diseases found by an eye test can very rarely be life-threatening, so eye examinations are an important part of your regular health checks.

There are three main parts involved in a typical eye test:

History and symptoms

This gives you the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have about your eyes, vision or current glasses, and whether you’re experiencing any symptoms which might need further investigation. The optometrist will ask about your general health, medications, any past treatment on your eyes, or if there are any family members with eye conditions. All this information helps the optometrist to tailor the examination to best suit your needs.

The tests

There are a few types of tests and equipment developed to assess different aspects of our eyes and vision. Some are common to all eye tests – for example, the letter chart indicates how clearly you can see, or a light shone into the eye allows a good view of the eye’s structures – while others may be used when further investigations are required, for example, to check if the eyes can see colour normally.

Some of the common tests, like the visual field test and the eye pressure test (puff of air test), can be performed on behalf of the optometrist before the eye examination. These are known as pre-tests and help to make the process a little more efficient.

Summary and advice

Once all the relevant tests have been carried out, your optometrist will be able to discuss the results and offer any advice. This could be a simple ‘all clear’ on the eye health front, or they might talk you through particular lens options to match your prescription and lifestyle.

Treatments for any eye conditions are also discussed at this point as well as possible referral to a specialist.

Your eye test results

At the end of your eye exam, the optometrist will give you a copy of the prescription and can answer any further questions you may have. They can also help you understand and read your prescription if you need one and will then recommend the best options for you.

FAQs

How good does your vision have to be for driving?

All licensed drivers must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.

You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optometrist can tell you about this and do a specific field test if necessary.

What is an eye test?

An eye test is a series of checks which assess both the health of the eye and how well the eyes function