The Sight Test Revolution on the High Street
(9 July 2020 12:00 am)
The last few decades have seen rapid changes in the way UK patients access eye tests. Just 20-30 years ago, the typical visit to a high street optician would include a basic test and, if you were experiencing specific issues with your vision, the optician may have used an ophthalmoscope to examine the back of your eye. In essence, you would not visit an optician unless you were experiencing problems with your sight.
Fortunately, high street sight tests have now been completely revolutionised through technological advances. During a standard visit today, you will first complete pre-testing with an optical assistant. This may include a tonometer test, where gentle puffs of air are used to measure the internal pressure of your eyes (vital in the early detection of glaucoma). Multifunctional machines now conduct multiple tests – such as auto-refraction (for long/short-sightedness) whilst digital retinal photography takes an image of the back of your eye.
Your optometrist uses the results gathered during pre-testing, plus any symptoms you declare, to assess your overall eye health.
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a hospital-grade eye scan which is now being introduced to consumers by some high street opticians, at a cost. OCT uses light waves to create a 3D image of your eye, allowing distinct layers of the retina to be viewed separately, thus allowing opticians to detect signs of eye health deterioration up to 4 years earlier than traditional methods.
Remember, even though you may be losing your vision, always visit your optician to maximise your usable sight. Opticians can also detect other medical conditions:
- Diabetes: early signs of haemorrhaging
- High Blood Pressure: damaged blood vessels
- Cancer: abnormal eye structure
- Tumours: abnormal shape of pupils
- Arthritis: inflammation of sclera (white of the eye)
- Dementia: thinner retinas or deterioration in the retinal cells
- Thyroid disease: bulging eyes
- and much more ...