Frequently Asked Questions


Below is a list of some of the most common questions that we are asked. If you have any questions that do not appear here, then please contact us via e-mail or phone and a fully qualified optometrist will send you an informative reply as soon as they are able.

Why are eye examinations so important?
Regular eye examinations are important as they enable the optician to ensure you are getting the maximum possible clarity out of your spectacles and to check that not only the eye is healthy, but also that other detectable signs of general health disease like diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure are not present.
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How regularly should I have my eyes tested?
A regular examination interval can range from 6 months for a developing eye in a child, to 2 years for a healthy adult with no sign of eye abnormality. Other intervals include annual checks for diabetics, people with cataracts or other conditions that need closer monitoring.
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How long does an eye test take?
An eye test can take anything from 15 to 30 mins (on average, sometimes more) depending upon what problems/symptoms the patient presents, and any further testing that maybe needed to confirm or rule-out any particular diagnosis.
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Who has to pay for their eye tests?
People who qualify for free eye examinations include everyone under 16, under 19 in full time education, over 60, income support, working family tax credit, job seekers allowance, pension credit, diabetics or glaucoma suffers, people over 40 with an immediate blood relative with glaucoma, people with high risk of glaucoma and certain people with very bad eye sight. Others have to pay the standard rate, which is currently £29.95.
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I use a computer all day, do I get help with the cost of my eye test and/or glasses?
If you spend more than 1/3 of your day in front of a VDU screen, then you are classified as a ‘user’. The government strongly encourages companies who employ such people to pay for the provision of a sight test and make a contribution towards the cost of an optical appliance if it is needed solely and exclusively for VDU wear. Most companies adhere very well to these regulations, but there are still some firms who make the patient cover their own costs. Therefore speak to your employer for final approval before the examination.
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What are cataracts and glaucoma?
A cataract is where the focussing lens inside your eye begins to lose transparency and becomes cloudy. This can be caused by several things, age being the most common. Glaucoma is where the nerve that sends information from the eye to the brain becomes damaged by a combination of a lack of oxygen from the blood and by increasing pressure inside the eye. Unfortunately, there are no symptoms for you to pick up or self-tests to perform to detect glaucoma. An optician is the only person able to do this and routinely checks everyone over 40 years, as the older we get, the greater the chance of acquiring the disease.
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What is myopia and hyperopia?
These are the technical terms for short-sightedness and long-sightedness respectively.
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I don’t understand my prescription, what is an astigmatism?
The first number in your prescription tells you how powerful your eye is and is termed the ‘sphere power’. This tells you whether you are short-sighted (indicated by a minus number) or long-sighted (indicated by a plus). The second number (if present) shows the level of astigmatism. This is where the eye is shaped more oval in shape than round, so more like a rugby ball than a football. The final number is like a compass point and tells us which direction your rugby-ball eye is pointing. Finally, there may be an ‘add’ if you are over 40, or younger with a slight muscle imbalance, and this is just an extra bit of strength generally prescribed to help you see near objects more clearly.
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Do I still need a check-up every 2 years if everything seems ok?
Absolutely. Things can change very rapidly in the human eye, and more often than not, early detection is essential in helping to prevent problems from getting any worse.
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Why do I need annual checks if I’m diabetic?
In diabetes, as the sugar levels in the blood rise, the inner lining of the blood vessel becomes damaged and can leak blood into the eye. Obviously, this can have a detrimental effect on your vision. If these changes are caught in time, the bleeding can be stopped using a pain free technique involving a laser. Annual checks are therefore the longest gap you should ever leave between tests.
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At what age can a child be examined?
Children can be examined at any age. Through methods called ‘objective testing’, we can assess very accurately the health, prescription and muscle status of an eye without talking to the patient at all. Recommended ages for tests are 6 months, 3 years, 5 years and either 6 monthly or annually after that, depending on the condition of the child’s eyes.
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How can I tell if my child has an eye problem?
This can sometimes be very difficult without proper training, however you should watch out for any sign of squinting as the child looks at things, a white pupil in a photo of the child, any apparent turn in one eye, unusually regular scratching or rubbing of the eye or headaches.
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Why does my child need an eye test when they are checked at school?
The school eye test is often performed by a nurse checking for only the most obvious of eye problems such as grossly reduced vision. Often a squint, lazy eye or certain eye diseases are much more subtle in appearance and are therefore much harder to pick up without specialist training and equipment.
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If I wear contact lenses, am I entitled to a copy of my contact lens prescription?
Once a full and thorough assessment of your eyes has been made, everyone is entitled to a copy of their prescription. However, if you do this, the Optician will need payment in full for their professional services, which include both the initial fitting and the verification appointment. The cost of these is £49.
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Can I wear contact lenses if I have an astigmatism?
Yes, by use of a specialist lens called a ‘Toric’ contact lens.
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My prescription has an expiry date, can I still buy contact lenses after this?
No. It is illegal for anyone to sell contact lenses to somebody without a valid and in date prescription. This is for a good reason, that a contact lens could as easily make you go blind as it can help you see, if not checked on a regular basis. Most contact lens prescriptions will expire 6 months after being issued.
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Can I use tap water, saliva or other liquids to clean my contact lenses?
Definitely not. Micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses or tiny worms called ‘Protazoa’ are abundant all around us, but particularly in our mouths, on our hands before we wash them and in water tanks in our homes. If any of these get onto your lens, the next place they go is in your eye. This is why you must only ever use the solution recommended by your Optician.
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Does this mean Contact Lenses are unsafe and carry a high risk of infection?
If handled carefully, and checked regularly, contact lens wear can be an incredibly safe and effective way to correct your vision. However, not everyone is suitable for contact lenses, so those interested should always seek a professional opinion before commencing lens wear.
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I was told to only wear my lenses for 6 hours, why take them out if they feel ok?
The eye is an unusual organ which gets virtually no oxygen from the body. The oxygen is therefore obtained directly from the air. When we sleep or have a sheet of plastic over our eye (e.g. a contact lens) the eye does not breathe properly. As a result, the optician will inform you how much breathing time your eye needs for a particular type of lens.
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Can I get Contact Lenses from my spectacle prescription?
No. A contact lens sits far closer to your eye than a spectacle lens, and it also utilises the tears to form part of your vision correction. As a result, your necessary contact lens strength is often very different to that of your glasses.
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What do I do if my eye is red, sore or uncomfortable with the lens in?
You should remove the lens immediately, carefully clean the lens, have the remainder of the day free from wear. As long as the eye begins to improve and does not deteriorate, then you can try again the following morning. If the eye continues to trouble you the next day, you should remove the lens again and seek immediate professional advice from your optician.
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How often do I need to change my contact lens case?
Contact lens cases rapidly build up dirt, deposits and dangerous micro-organisms from your lenses and their surrounding environment. It is often difficult to detect the presence of these in your case. It is therefore highly recommended that you change it at least every 3 months.
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If I have contacts, why do I need glasses as well?
Often we need contacts because we cannot see well without them. If you have an infection in your eye and cannot wear your lenses, or you lose or damage a lens, then spectacles are essential for you to carry on your day to day lives without interruption. Also, those people who only have contact lenses, tend to wear their lenses for far longer periods than is advisable. If you have accurate spectacles as well, then you are far more likely to treat your contact lenses with the respect they demand.
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How soon can my glasses be ready?
Spectacles can take anything from 1 hour to a maximum of 2 weeks to prepare depending upon which product you have selected and whether we have then in stock although we stock an extensive range of both frames and lenses.
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To find more about how we can help, please contact us directly at one of our practices. See our practice pages for more details.

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