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Here’s five ways an eye test could save your life this National Eye Health Week…

There are countless reasons why you should attend regular eye examinations - not just for the obvious reasons such as to determine what prescription you need, but also because an eye check can potentially save your life. In fact, hundreds of lives could be saved each and every year if more people just attended regular, routine eye exams.

Many diseases often begin with little or no obvious symptoms, yet they can be picked up in a routine eye test. If spotted early, a diagnosis of one of these devastating illnesses can be life-saving. We recommend having an eye test every two years to check the health of your eyes.

 

Here are just five ways an eye test can save your life:

  1. Diabetes

    An estimated 750,000 people in the UK have diabetes but don't know it, according to Diabetes UK. Unmanaged, it can eventually cause blindness, cause you to lose a limb, or in most severe cases, it can kill you.

    It’s easy to miss the silent symptoms; however, a small amount of bleeding on the retina will be picked up in an eye exam. When the blood vessels in the central area of the retina (the macula) are affected, this is termed ‘diabetic maculopathy’ and is one of the most common causes of sight loss.

     

  2. Brain tumours

    Spotting a brain tumour early can be a matter of life and death. Over 5,000 people lose their lives to a brain tumour each year, while over 10,600 people are diagnosed, according to the Brain Tumour Charity.

    An optometrist (also known as an optician) can check for blurred vision and monitor unusual pupil dilation and the colour of the optic nerve.  A Visual Fields diagnostic test can assist in the diagnosis. This test is widely available within optometry practices today.  If anything looks out of the ordinary, you'll immediately be referred to a neurologist.

     

  3. Heart disease

    Cardiovascular disease kills someone in the UK every three minutes, according to the Heart Research Institute. An optometrist can spot a white ring around the cornea (the clear surface of your eye), which can be an indicator of high blood cholesterol, a common contributor to coronary heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.

     

  4. Multiple Sclerosis

    The average life expectancy for people with MS is around five to ten years lower than average, according to the NHS.

    Multiple sclerosis can cause swelling of the optic nerve, which creates a specific visual field defect called a ‘scotoma’. This is straight-forward to pick up during a routine eye examination.

     

  5. High blood pressure

    High blood pressure was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the UK in 2015, according to the Blood Pressure Association.

    Many people discover they have high blood pressure following an eye test. It can cause burst blood vessels at the back of the eye – easily spotted during a routine eye exam.

     

Stephen Hannan recommends that every patient undergoes an eye examination on a regular basis – as a minimum once every two years. In some cases, the optometrist will recommend an eye examination is performed more frequently than this.  If a patient has any concerns in relation to their eyes, or experiences headaches of any form, it is recommended that their first port of call is their local optician for an eye examination at the earliest opportunity.