National Eye Health Week – 19-25 September 2022

by Sue King, S4S Eye Clinic Liaison/Low Vision Practitioner

This year, as part of National Eye Health Week we are focussing on the importance of regular eye tests for people who are blind or partially sighted.

You might have found yourself in the situation that many people with sight loss face, that is going for an eye test and being told that glasses will not help or being told that there is nothing more that can be done to improve your eyesight. This is a common experience and one that is very negative. You probably felt that was the end of your visits to high street opticians for an eye test; however, you should still continue to have your eyes checked regularly (at least every two years). Although your eyesight is unlikely to improve, regular eye tests will help you to maintain your remaining vision or prevent more rapid vision decline.

Less than 50% of an eye examination is about vision, prescriptions and spectacles. Most of the time spent with an Optometrist is about checking the health of the eyes. Many health conditions can be first picked up in eye tests, including

autoimmune diseases such as Arthritis, Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia, Diabetes, High blood pressure (hypertension), High cholesterol, some types of tumour, including melanomas and brain tumours, Thyroid disease.

So, an eye test will tell you a lot more about your body health, rather than just your eye health!

Eye tests are free for people who are registered as sight impaired or severely sight impaired.

Here is some feedback from a staff member, Graham Hawkes:

“As a registered blind person, I still have a regular eye examination, to keep an eye on my general health. My actual vision test only takes a couple of minutes as there is only a limited amount of vision to test. The main part of my visits is spent with the optometrist physically examining the back of my eyes to check that there is nothing untoward going on. Although I have limited vision, I am desperate to maintain what I have,

So, for my peace of mind I feel that for the sake of a short visit to the optician it is a small price well worth paying.”

And from optometrist Vipul Jyoti, Rose Opticians, Harlow:

“As an optometrist working very closely with the hospital eye clinic, I always advocate for the importance of getting eyes tested. Even more so if you are blind or partially sighted, as I have often noticed the assumption that being under the hospital eye department is enough. However, there are things that we as optometrists can help maximize for low vision, which the hospital may not have the time or capacity for.”