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Article by Sarah Hamilton-Walker | 1st March 2018

The Eyes Have It

As we age, eye examinations are a vital health check and should be part of everyone’s normal health care.

Vision problems can lead to a higher risk of falls, driving accidents, and incorrect use of medications. They can also make day-to-day life harder. The best way to ensure your eyes are healthy is to have regular eye checks.

An eye test will check on the health of your eyes as well as how well your vision is doing so it really does pay to have regular eye tests as you get older to keep an eye on your eyesight/glasses prescription.

Eye diseases can be present without obvious symptoms so it’s important to keep your appointment even if you think your eyes are fine. Your optician can also pick up conditions such as glaucoma, which can lead to blindness.

Many eye diseases can be treated successfully if they are detected early.

What are some common eye diseases that can affect me?

Certain eye diseases are more common as we age. These include:

• Glaucoma
• Cataracts
• Macular degeneration
• Floaters and flashes

Eye diseases don’t always cause obvious symptoms. An eye test by an optician doesn’t just check to see whether you need glasses – it’s also an important check on the health of your eyes. An eye test checks your vision straight ahead, as well as your side (peripheral) vision.

How often should I get my eyes tested and are tests free?

If you are aged between 60 and 70 you’re entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years and annually if older – or as often as your optician recommends. If you notice any changes in your vision, get it checked as soon as possible.

A rather worrying 41% of adults aged 40-75 have noticed a deterioration in their eyesight, but done nothing about it, according to a survey for the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel.
Everyone aged 60 and over can receive a free eye test every two years. You’ll get a free annual sight test at any age if you have a close family member who has been diagnosed with glaucoma or you’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma.

You’ll also get a free annual eye test at any age if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. You should also be offered an additional annual eye test to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Am I entitled to free glasses?

If you’re on Pension Credit Guarantee, you and your partner are automatically entitled to a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses. If you or your partner receive Universal Credit and meet certain other criteria, you may also be eligible for help with health costs.

If you and your partner have a low income and savings, you may be able to get help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses through the NHS Low Income scheme.

• For further information, visit www.lookafteryoureyes.org, www.ageuk.org.uk and www.nhs.uk/Livewell

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