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Why is an eye health check so important now I’m over the age of 50?

Eye test

Eye testWith so many things to remember, it’s easy for an eye health check to slip down the to-do-list. However, when you think of the important role your sight plays in your life, it’s imperative that you take good care of your eyes.

Why do I need an eye health check?

An eye health check isn’t just about testing whether you need to wear glasses or not. An optometrist uses a number of tests and scans to see the health of the eye, checking for signs of more serious medical conditions. It is important that everyone under 60 should see an optometrist at least once every two years, and annually after this age. If you notice anything unusual or a change in your vision, you should see an optometrist as soon as possible.

What can I expect from an eye health check?

An eye health check includes a series of tests and pre-tests which are run by the optometrist and an optical assistant. These will vary depending on your eyes and general health and will use a number of instruments and machines. At Specsavers stores, all eye health checks include a non-invasive OCT scan which allows the optometrist to see the layers in the back of your eye in 3D. This means they can detect signs of eye conditions earlier, meaning they can be treated sooner. You can expect an eye health check to take approximately twenty minutes.

Common eye conditions to watch out for

Ian Russell, Optometrist and co-owner of Specsavers Whanganui, explains a few eye conditions that you should know about:

Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a group of progressive eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain, and often results in the gradual loss of peripheral vision. People with early stage glaucoma experience no symptoms, but without timely detection and treatment, irreversible damage may occur to the eye causing blurred or missing vision.

Macular Degeneration – Age-related macular degeneration is a degenerative eye disease that damages the macula, the central part of the retina, causing progressive loss of central vision. Vision becomes increasingly blurred or distorted, reading becomes difficult, colours become less vibrant and people’s faces become more difficult to recognise. It is usually related to ageing and predominantly develops after the age of 50. As it is progressive, it is important that it is detected early so that risk factors can be managed to prevent more rapid deterioration. Newer treatments can halt the progression of Macular Degeneration if instigated early enough, so any changes in vision should be checked promptly.

Diabetic retinopathy – Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most common complications associated with diabetes and affects around 1 in 3 people living with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy can be easily managed and treated if detected early. It occurs when diabetes mellitus damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. Diabetic retinopathy often has no visible symptoms and can progress to advanced stages without the patient realising they have an issue with their eyes.