Since the Blandford Forum store opened last summer, the team has been delighted to welcome new customers and answer any queries they may have. 

Colleagues are always mindful though that some locals probably haven't had a sight test for sometime, and maybe unaware of what's involved as innovations move at apace in this industry.

Here to answer all your questions is ophthalmic director, Sinan Khan.

Why should I have an eye examination?

We recommend a sight test every two years, to check for changes in your vision but also, to see if there are any wider health concerns. Many are still unaware that a sight test can pick up indicators of other health concerns, be it eye related such as the early onset of glaucoma to other conditions such as raised blood pressure or signs of diabetes. 

Although extremely rare, it has been known for an optician to detect worrying signs that lead onto a customer being diagnosed with a brain tumour. We do not want to scare people but simply remind everyone that a sight test is much more than simply checking for vision issues.

What age should a child have their first sight test?

We recommend children visit us from aged three upwards. This is different to the general eye check given by a health worker. Children's vision is very precious - it helps with their learning and development as they start to experience the world and a sight test can check their vision and also pick up some conditions such as a lazy eye or a squint that has gone unnoticed by a parent. 

The sooner an issue is identified, the better the outcome for the longer term.

What happens during a sight test?

Every eye examination is bespoke to your own individual needs, but typically you will have a pre-test with one of our friendly optical assistants. They will use our diagnostic equipment such as a tonometer if relevant to the customer, and this blows a gentle puff of air onto the surface of each eye to measure the internal pressure.

This enables us to access the risk of developing glaucoma, a preventable sight loss condition. Other tests, such as autorefraction, are used to see how long or short-sighted you are. We also look at the back of the eye by taking a special photograph. We save this image to monitor changes, and it helps us to check the health of the eye and any other health conditions.

When you see the optican, they will ask some questions to see if you have any consumers. It also enables us to get a feel for your lifestyle and needs - for example, if you are a keen sportsperson, contact lenses might be a sensible solution. 

We then go on to check your vision using a retinoscope to get an accurate measurement and will ask you to  read a test chart through different strength lenses. Then we can identify the right lenses to suit your vision needs.

Are there any other 'extras' that happen?

Sometimes we use other equipment to fine tune our findings. This can include an examination of the retina to make sure the whole eye is healthy, such as the blood vessels and optic nerve.  We also have a very powerful microscope that checks the front surface of the eyes such as scratches on the cornea.

We also have equipment called a visual field check. You have to detect flashes of light in your peripheral vision. It is used to identify any early indicators of glaucoma and any other issues that you may have such as headaches. 

What happens next?

It all depends on the findings which the optician will go through with you. We will discuss your new prescription and you will be able to see an assistant in the store to assist with frame selection. Or maybe you are ready to switch to contact lenses, where again, we have an assistant in the store to discuss all these options with you. 

If there are wider health concerns, we will give you the necessary, personalised advice to suit your condition.  What's important is having the regular sight checks so we can pick up on any changes as and when they develop.

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