The importance of eye health awareness can’t be underestimated. Around 90 per cent of blindness and vision impairment in Australians is preventable or treatable if detected early. Encouraging Australians of all ages to have their eyes tested regularly leads to early detection and treatment. Is it still that one task sitting at the end of your to-do list? Read on.
The Not Very Ideal State of Eye Health in Australia
According to Vision 2020 more than 453,000 Australians are blind or vision impaired. Around 55 per cent of the population has one or more long-term eye conditions including astigmatism, colour blindness and long-sightedness.
Even though 86 per cent of Australians say that sight is their most valued sense (up to 93 per cent of those over 55 years), it doesn’t translate into action. Optometry Australia’s Vision 2020 Index Report found that 93 per cent of people don’t get regular eye checks. The survey of 1,000 people found nine per cent hadn’t had their eyes checked in five years.
What’s Involved in an Eye Exam?
Various tests are performed during an eye exam to check your vision and possible eye health concerns.
Your optometrist will check that you can see at different distances through a visual acuity test that involves naming letters or numbers on an eye chart. A retinoscopy test will require you to read another chart while lenses are changed to decide whether a patient is short or long-sighted.
The ocular motility test involves shining a light into your eyes and watching how the pupil reacts. A slit lamp helps to check the front of the eye for any injuries to the cornea, lens, or iris and possible signs of a cataract. The back of the eye includes the retina, optic nerve, and blood vessels, and these can be inspected with a retinal test to look for problems such as macular degeneration. Peripheral vision is also revised to ensure a sufficient field of vision. An eye pressure test is performed by blowing a puff of air into the eye or a probe placed near the eye.
How Often Should You Have an Eye Exam?
The frequency of eye exams depends on a few factors. Most adults should have an eye test every two years. But for older people, those with certain medical conditions or a family history of diabetes or glaucoma, their optometrist may recommend annual or more regular appointments.
However, anyone who is experiencing any of the following symptoms should book an appointment and not wait for their scheduled due date:
- Dry, sore eyes
- Scratchy gritty eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Difficulty with night driving
- Poor focusing
- Eye fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Frequently changing prescription
Preventing Vision Loss
Many assume an optometrist checks your eyes for sight problems and recommends glasses when required. But their job goes beyond this. An optometrist can detect any of the following conditions during an eye exam:
- Dry eyes
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
Glaucoma and diabetic eye disease are two of the most common reasons for loss of sight. Too often, people seek specialist treatment when their vision has deteriorated to the point that it’s life-changing. But if they had attended an eye test five years earlier, the condition could have been diagnosed and treated earlier.
Known as the ‘silent thief of sight’, glaucoma usually has no symptoms. Some people may experience acute angle-closure glaucoma which is a medical emergency. The symptoms can include severe pain, poor vision, headache, nausea, vomiting, and red eyes, and require a patient to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Regular eye checks can detect changes in the optic nerve and check for high eye pressure. People at higher risk of developing glaucoma can have eye checks more regularly.
Around 500,000 Australians are living with silent undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. Not knowing you have diabetes puts your vision at greater risk because you may not have regular eye checks. Even of those who know they have diabetes, only half get the recommended diabetes eye checks. Diabetic eye disease can include cataracts; diabetic retinopathy, where small blood vessels on the back of the eye are damaged; glaucoma and problems focusing. People with diabetes can take care of their eyes by having them checked at least every two years, controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Regular eye checks mean you have a record of your eye’s health, and monitoring for changes is possible.
Good Vision for Learning
In children, eye checks can ensure that poor vision isn’t compromising their education. Babies as young as six months can have their vision checked. Starting young is important because when children start growing with blurry vision, it can be hard for them to call it out, given it’s what they may perceive as “normal”. Parents can look out for poor vision symptoms in their child, such as poor hand-eye coordination, sitting close to the TV, headaches, light sensitivity, eye rubbing and literacy difficulties. Children should have at least one eye exam before age five and another around age seven to ensure any problems with their vision are detected.
Reduce Other Risks
Not everyone can recognise that their eyesight is deteriorating. For some, the realisation comes too late. They may not have seen a step or object and suffered a fall. Not seeing another vehicle or sign can result in a traffic accident. An eye exam can check that you can see clearly.
If you can’t remember your last eye exam you may be due for the next one.
Book an eye test today, and if you have any concerns about your vision ask for a referral to our clinic by calling (08) 9381 0758 or contacting us online. Ensuring you have clear vision makes for a much better life now and could save you from devastating vision loss in the future.
Contact Lions Laser Vision
Please call us at Lions Laser Vision and speak with one of our clinical coordinators who will be able to answer your questions and schedule an initial consultation with one of our refractive surgeons.
Alternatively, complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
PHONE: 08 9381 0758
FAX: 08 9381 0700
Lions Eye Institute
Lions Laser Vision
2 Verdun Street
Nedlands WA 6009
St John of God Murdoch
Murdoch Medical Centre
100 Murdoch Dr
Murdoch WA 6150