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Prescriptions & Eye Tests
Do I need an eye test?
Medically reviewed by Sharon Copeland on 14 January 2022
Getting regular eye tests is an important part of maintaining good eye health. You should get regular eye tests whether you wear prescriptive lenses or not. Eye tests may also find early symptoms of other more serious conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
How do you know if you need your eyes tested?
There are some common tell-tale signs that let you know whether you need your eyes tested, these include:
- If your eyes are severely dry, red or itchy
- Seeing spots, flashes of light, or floaters
- If you can’t remember when you last had an eye test
- Holding books or the newspaper further away from your face
- Squinting or closing one eye to read clearly
- If you’re experiencing eye strain or headaches
- If you often get dizzy and suffer from motion sickness
- If you’ve noticed any changes to your vision
- If you have diabetes or any other health condition that could affect your vision or eyes
How often do you need an eye test?
It is generally advised by eye care professionals to go for an eye test every two years, even if you don’t notice any changes to your vision or eye health. This may be done earlier if you feel there are some noticeable changes in your eye health, or you begin to experience symptoms such as regular headaches, blurry vision and eye strain.
Your optician can identify any possible issues before any further damage is done to your eyes or vision. They will also take note of any change, no matter how slight, in your prescription requirements.
What are the consequences of going without a regular eye exam?
Eye exams detect a range of eye conditions and vision problems such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. People who develop glaucoma and fail to have their eyes tested regularly are at risk of losing their vision. This is because there are usually no symptoms in most cases of early glaucoma.
In addition to this, those who are prediabetic are at a higher risk of developing diabetic eye disease which can also lead to blindness.
Eye exams can also identify general health problems. Therefore, going without a regular eye examination can mean that you miss early signs of serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and high blood pressure.
How to book an eye test?
There are various ways that you can book an eye test.
Some opticians have an online booking system that allows you to book an appointment through their website. An online search will easily find you the opticians most local to you. You can also ring the optician of your choice and arrange an appointment over the phone.
If more convenient, you can pick a selection of opticians near you and personally walk instore and talk to each optician to get a feel of the practice and register in person.
It’s also worth noticing that you can get home visits for a sight test if need be.
Are eye tests free?
Whether or not you need to pay for an eye test depends on your status and where you go to get your eye test. Some people may be entitled to a free eye test .
It should also be noted that a standard eye test which will test your overall eye health and give you a prescription for glasses, is not the same as a test for contact lenses. A glasses prescription and contact lens prescription are different, and therefore require two completely different tests..
Who is entitled to a free eye test?
Special groups such as young children, the elderly, people on government benefits and those who suffer from or are at risk of glaucoma are entitled to free eye tests. You can read our full guide on whether you are entitled to a free eye test here.
When should a child get an eye test?
Babies eyes are checked during the first 72 hours of birth and regularly during post-natal check-ups and doctors’ appointments as they grow. Children must be taken for regular eye tests  and seen immediately by an optician or doctor if they start experiencing sight issues. Common eye problems that affect children are lazy eye (amblyopia), squint (strabismus) and increasingly myopia. Young adolescents are entitled to free eye tests up until the age of 16.
 NHS. (2019). How often can I have a free NHS eye test?. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/nhs-services-and-treatments/how-often-can-i-have-a-free-nhs-eye-test/ [Accessed 14 May 2019].
 NHS. (2019). Eye tests for children. [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eye-tests-in-children/ [Accessed 14 May 2019].
Quick links:Eye exams for contact lenses
The importance of eye exams
The history of eye exams