The essential elements in a routine sight test have changed little since the 19th century but the potential for Optometric practice has changed enormously. Unfortunately the optometric community have been very poor at communicating what optometry can offer. The public (and often medical professionals and politicians who should know better) still see all Opticians merely as testers-of-sight and sellers-of-glasses. I hope to use this website to try to communicate what optometry can do to help everyone make the best of their vision.
I am not an academic but I worked as a community optometrist for over 30 years. Professionally I am intrigued by the history of sight testing as well as the insights into vision and vision enhancement offered by modern research, especially into how we read and use our vision for sport and driving. Unfortunately at present I do not see how new ways of thinking about vision training can be accommodated by community optometry. The concept of 'Free Eye Tests' is still too engrained in British Optometry.
I have tried as far as possible to keep the information on these pages as simple as possible with links to articles I found interesting. There is plenty of information available on 'the web', but please make sure you don't worry yourself unnecessarily. The internet has made us all experts as to what a problem might be and what its possible solutions are. However whilst 'googling it' can give us possible solutions only a face-to-face consultation with an expert who knows the pertinent questions to ask can come up with a unique solution for you.
Your eyes and your sight are unique to you. If you have any concerns about your eyes or vision then make an appointment with a community optometrist and discuss your concerns with them. It is what we are there for and it is far better to discuss any concerns face-to-face, but please don't expect us to be able to allay any fears you may have with a 'quick chat' between appointments.
Just as 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' don't expect to get a 'free eye test', If you do, ask yourself how it is being funded. Someone, somewhere, somehow has to pay for your Eye Care Team's time, premises and equipment. Do you work for nothing?
Although all British optometrists are trained the same and the GOC rules, that British optometrists have to adher to, are the same NHS funding means that the way optometric services are delivered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland does vary.
Lastly, please bear in mind that although buying your specs 'Online' or abroad may cost less than buying from your Independant Eyecare Practitioner, who will advise you on your eyecare when all local independant High Street 'Opticians' have shut-up-shop due to lack of buisness and all you are left with are 'Shopticians'?
Optometrists can not always improve vision to give the preferred 6/6 and N5. When this happens they will refer on to an Ophthalmogy team at a hospital eye clinic for treatments to either restore ocular health or prevent further deterioration.
If the time comes when medical interventions can not restore 6/6 and N5 then lifestyle changes can be needed to continue leading an active life. Advice maybe available through an LVA clinic attached to the Hospital Eye Clinic or by contacting your nearest Blind charity ( they do not just work with the Blind but anyone who is struggling to cope with less than perfect vision should contact them). They are just a phone call away or your optometrist can issue a Self- referral for Visual impairment form.