Why are eye examinations important?
In this country most children and adults visit the dentist for regular check- ups; however this practice does not extend to eye examinations. This is surprising as losing sight is one of the senses many people fear the most. Whatever the reasons for this anomalous behaviour, the result is that many children do not have any assessment of their vision after the rudimentary preschool check by the health visitor. This can be detrimental to both the child’s education and general development. It also means that many adults do not have a regular eye examination until early to middle 40s. An eye examination is not merely a vehicle for retailing glasses which appears to be a common misconception but a vital means of detecting early eye diseases as well as other diseases affecting the rest of the body.
As with dentistry, the NHS funds free eye examinations and partially funds the costs of glasses for children but unlike dentistry there is universal provision for eye examinations in adults also.
This allows for an NHS eye examination every two years for adults aged 19 – 59 and every year for adults aged 60 and above. In addition adults 40 or over with a family history of glaucoma and all diabetic adults are eligible for an eye examination every year.
Most eye examinations are carried out by high street optometrists (ophthalmic opticians), any further hospital treatment required is carried out under the supervision of an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor specialising in eye diseases). Some ophthalmologists work in high street practices providing both routine eye examinations and specialist opinion. This is commonplace in mainland Europe but still a rarity in the UK; however Optical Solutions in Edinburgh is one such practice.