It is recommended that everyone visits their local opticians for an eye test at least every two years for a routine check. Eye tests in Scotland are free under the NHS, so there’s every reason to get booked in for a check-up.
It is easy to forget about the need to look after our eyes, because they don’t always hurt when there is a problem. You may not even have symptoms until a condition is well advanced.
Antonia McNeill, store director at Specsavers Cumbernauld, said: “Eye examinations do more than just test a person’s vision, as our highly trained optometrists can pick up on certain health conditions that could be fatal if left undetected.
“Thankfully, most minor eye conditions are easily detected and treated, and, if potentially serious eye conditions are caught and managed early, it is often possible to halt or slow down the loss of vision – that’s why regular check-ups are so important.
“Selected Specsavers stores can now also help with a range of common eye conditions – for example, the Cumbernauld store has a red eye clinic for people to drop in and check any concerning symptoms.” Here are some of the most common warning signs to watch out for:
1. Redness, pain or discomfort
People can experience red, irritated or bloodshot eyes on occasion, which is often no cause for concern but it can be an indication of conjunctivitis or a more serious condition such as glaucoma. Simple measures such as good hygiene, refraining from rubbing eyes and taking breaks from prolonged periods of looking at a computer screen can prevent red eye.
2. Blurred vision
Blurred or misty vision could be a sign of cataracts – the main cause of impaired vision worldwide. Cataracts often develop as a result of age but family history, smoking, poor diet and excessive exposure to UV light can also be a factor of increasing the risk of cataracts developing. In the case of mild cataracts, a stronger prescription and brighter reading lights can reduce the symptoms. However, the most effective treatment for cataracts is surgery.
3. Flashes of light
Sudden changes in vision such as blurring, flashing lights or small dots appearing in the field of view can be perfectly normal but they can also be a possible warning of something more serious. When experiencing these symptoms, book an emergency appointment at Specsavers as they could indicate retinal detachment. Retinal detachment is caused by a tear in the retina, which can occur following an injury – this can be repaired by a specialist using laser treatment but if left untreated, can result in vision loss.
4. An increase in the number of “floaters” in your vision
Small “floaters” (specks that float about in your field of vision) are often harmless and move quickly, so don’t usually affect a person’s vision for a prolonged period of time. Floaters can occur due to small pieces of debris in the eye that cast shadows on to the retina. In some rare cases, they can be an indicator of a retinal tear or detachment. Most types of floaters don’t require treatment but if there is an increase in floaters or any sudden change, visit Specsavers for an eye health check.
5. Sudden loss of vision
In some cases, many of the above symptoms, if left untreated, can result in a loss of vision. Sudden loss of vision can indicate a potential sight-threatening or, in some cases, life-threatening, condition such as a haemorrhage, stroke or diabetic retinopathy. It is essential to seek urgent medical attention when experiencing any sudden loss of vision.