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Vision: Just the Facts

Vision and eyesight are commonly used terms; however there are differences between the two

Your eyesight is one of your most important senses and refers to the ability to see. Whereas vision allows you to process what you have seen and make you aware of your surroundings.

Your vision also contributes to around eighty per cent of everything that you learn which is why looking after your vision is really important.

How do I know if I’m having problems with my vision?

Unlike other parts of the body, you may not always notice when you have a problem with your eyes, which is why it’s recommended that you have regular eye tests, ideally yearly up until the age of 16 where it’s then recommended every two years.

You can get your eyes tested for free while you’re in full time education until you’re 18.

Below are some examples of problems you may experience:

  • Blurred Vision: This makes objects seem out of focus. It can be related to astigmatism, long and short sightedness. It can also be a sign of fatigue or eye straining or other health conditions.
  • Squinting: Squinting can be normal, especially when there is too much light, however if you are regularly squinting then this can be a sign that you may need glasses.
  • Headaches: These can be an early sign that you may need glasses. Having astigmatism, straining and being longsighted can often causes headaches, which is why regular check-ups can help.
  • Difficulty seeing the board in class, difficulty reading a book, having to use electronic devices up close or needing to sit closer to the TV.
  • Struggling to adjust from light to dark and vice versa.
  • Double vision: This can be caused by a number of things including dryness, infection and even diabetes. If you are experiencing double vision, it’s really important that you get your eyes tested.

Remember, this list is not exhaustive and there are other signs that indicate you may need to get your eyes tested.

If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it’s really important that you book an appointment with the local optician or ask a parent or carer to make this appointment for you.

What happens at an eye test?

Everyone’s eyes are different and therefore eye tests can be different from one person to the next.

Eye tests usually take around twenty to thirty minutes, however this can be longer or shorter depending on the health of your eyes.

The people who carry out eye tests are called opticians or ophthalmologists. During an eye test, an optician will carry out several routine tests as well as discussing your lifestyle and if you have noticed any changes in your vision.

There are a number of different tests that they may use when checking your vision, but they will not always use them all.

You may be asked to read some letters or look at colours and patterns, or you may be asked to follow a dot around. You may have a light shone in your eye to check it for scratches or abrasions. Sometimes they will blow air into each eye to check its pressure or take picture of the eye.

You’ll then get a prescription for glasses if you need them, and you can try lots of different styles in the store. Sometimes you may be referred to the hospital for further tests if they think you need it.

REMEMBER eye tests are not scary and are not painful.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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