Having a sight test is not just about your optometrist telling you you need new spectacles. It is about discussing any problems you might be having that could be vision related and how best to improve things. This maybe spectacles, it maybe eye exercises, it maybe comfort drops or it maybe referral to a colleague for further tests.
The following is a very simple breakdown of the 5 sections of a Routine Sight Test. Each section consists of a variety of tests, discussions and/or observations. All the sections and tests are interlinked as your optometrist uses his or her experience to examine your vision in the best way for you, your lifestyle and your eyes.
Getting to know you and your vision – this is a brief discussion to find out whether or not you might benefit from new specs or lenses and if there are any health issues that might affect your vision. If you have any concerns about changes in your vision now is the time to raise them so that your optometrist can either ease your fears by explaining what has changed or discuss what action needs to be taken.
Correcting your eye sight – your optometrist will use a variety of focusing lenses and questions to find out what strength of correction gives you the clearest image. This may feel like ‘trial and error’ but there is a logical progression to each step as your optometrist seeks to find ‘the little hill of best surrounded by a sea of worse’.
Binocular vision – having determined the corrective lenses that give the clearest possible focus for each eye your optometrist now has to make sure that the visual centre of the brain can use the information from both eyes together. Sometimes eyes can be like squabbling siblings vying for attention, or one eye can sulk and refuse to work with the other, and other times vision may feel like having conversations with two different people at the same.
Ocular Health – although the focus of an eye test may seem to be your purchase of a new pair of spectacles, it is not. Throughout your eye test your optometrist is focused on the health of your visual system. S/he uses their experience and available instruments in the available time to check the transparency of the refracting systems of your eye and the integrity of the processing systems of the visual pathways from your retina through to the visual centres within the brain.
Discussion – once your optometrist is happy that s/he knows the best strength of correcting lenses for your eyes and decided whether or not there is an underlying health problem that needs medical intervention s/he is ready to discuss your next step. This may involve a combination of suggestions;
- A recommendation to update your present glasses and maybe a suggestion to consider specialist lenses or frames more suited to your work, leisure or ocular health.
- Advice on the use of eye drops, exercises, dietary changes or supplements to keep your eyes healthy and happy.
- Referral – this may be to an optometric colleague for more specialist tests or to a medical professional for medical or surgical interventions.
- No action – other than a recommendation for a date for your next examination.