About Vision Testing
Why is vision testing so important?
Vision testing is important not just for your eye health, but for the health of the whole human body. By having your eyes regularly tested, a medical professional, like an optometrist, will be able to detect many different problems with the eyes and potentially other underlying illnesses the patient may not know about. Regular eye tests are therefore an important part of looking after yourself.
What type of medical professionals for eye care are there?
There are several types of medical professionals specialising in eye health and they are all highly trained to carry out different roles.
Optometrists have been trained in eye health and can recognise abnormalities. They are not doctors though they are highly trained to recognise, diagnose and treat a patient with an eye problem. They can examine the inner and outer parts of the eye, look at the eye structure and how it is functioning. They can test how well an eye can focus, how well the eye coordinates and to check for disorders such as colour blindness. An optometrist can also prescribe contact lenses, visual aids and glasses. If they have received the appropriate training, they can also prescribe medicines to patients and diagnose some certain eye conditions, including astigmatism, glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. If an optometrist believes a patient need investigating further, they will refer them to a GP or eye clinic.
An ophthalmic medical practitioner is a doctor who is qualified to treat the eyes. They will examine a patient’s eyes, conduct eye tests and diagnose any abnormalities. They can also prescribe corrective lenses for patients. They do not perform surgery but may refer a patient to an ophthalmologist if they think eye surgery should be considered.
An ophthalmologist is a surgeon who is specifically trained in eye medical care. They can perform surgical procedures and support patients in the prevention of eye disease and injuries. They can treat patients of all ages, including premature babies and elderly patients. They are qualified to treat conditions such as cataracts or glaucoma.
An occupational health practitioner will check the eye health of an employee for a company to make sure their eyesight meets the specific job requirements or if it is causing any damage. Their aim is to prevent any further injury of disease to an employee's eyesight. They may test an employee because they regularly use display screens, drive a company vehicle or perform intricate work up close. This could affect their current prescription for glasses or contact lenses or cause new eye problems. They may also assess the work environment and procedures the employer has put in place to support eye health. An occupational health practitioner may already work for a company or is hired to perform the tests on behalf of them. To find out more about Occupational Health Services, visit the GOV.UK website.
Orthoptists are needed if a patient has a medical condition regarding the movement of the eye. They may help children with a squint, an adult with learning difficulties or people who experience double vision.
Dispensing opticians provide and fit glasses and contacts lenses, they are like a pharmacist but only focus on eye care. They use the prescription from an ophthalmic practitioner or ophthalmologist to create the patients glasses or contact lenses. They can give informative advice on types of lenses, fit and dispense low vision aids, like a magnifying glass, and help a person choose a frame to suit the shape of their face. They do not perform eyes tests.
Why would an employee need an eye test?
An employee who has regular use of display screen equipment (DSE), drives a company vehicle such as a forklift truck or performs tasks with close detail work will require regular eye testing. Symptoms they may experience from DSE use include tired eyes, general discomfort, temporary short sightedness and headaches. DSE work can be demanding on the eyes so it’s important for employers to support employees eye health with some simple steps. Employers should check screens are adjusted correctly, lighting is suitable, and employees take regular breaks away from their desks.
Within the UK, an employee must pay for an eyesight test if a DSE user requests one. The test should be a full examination of the eye performed by a medical professional, like an optometrist.
For more information, please visit the Health and Safety Executive website's dedicated page - Working safely with display screen equipment or Download PDF
What type of equipment would an occupational health professional use to test an employee’s eyes?
The vision testing equipment available from Amplivox covers a wide range of eye screening suitable for an occupational health specialist. These include tests for far, near and intermediate visual acuity, depth perception, colour vision, lateral and vertical phoria and peripheral vision tests. The VT1 Master and VT1 Master GT also include tests for age-macular degeneration, hyperopia, astigmatism and contrast. To find out more about the full range of eye screening instruments visit our comparison page
Do Amplivox offer any types of accredited training course in vision testing to support occupational health professionals?
Amplivox offer a one-day accredited course designed for occupational health individuals who are conducting vision screening tests within the workplace. It incorporates many aspects of vision screening. For more information, visit our vision testing course page
How do you know if you are experiencing a problem with your eyes?
Your eyes, as intricate as they are, rarely hurt when something is wrong with them. This is why it is recommended that an eye test is conducted every two years. Looking out for feelings of irritation like itching, dry/watery eyes, sensitivity to light as well as how your eyes look (are they bloodshot or red) are all indications that your eyes may need to be checked. Many of these symptoms may be caused by eye strain, fatigue, an infection like conjunctivitis, an allergic reaction to a new cosmetic product or hay fever, however, it is always best to visit a GP or specialist to make sure there are no underlying health issues so diagnosis and treatment can begin as soon as possible.
What kind of eye conditions can be diagnosed?
There are many conditions that can affect the eye, these include:
Age-macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula which is located in the middle of the retina. Macula features cells that detect light, these then send signals to the optic nerve. Two forms of vision loss can occur from AMD, atrophic (dry) and exudative (wet). Both will lead to burry vision. AMD also affects the how sharp a person’s central vision is, which will be noticed when a person is doing certain activities, like driving a car or reading a newspaper. AMD develops as we age and cannot be reversed. There are three stages; early, intermediate and lateral. Treatments are specific to the two types. For dry AMD, using a magnifying glass, special reading lights and opting for large printed literature is helps greatly. For wet AMD, photo dynamic therapy and anti-VEGF medication are advised.
Astigmatism is when the eye is more elongated than normal and will result in an object to be out of focus causing blurry vision. Symptoms can include eye fatigue and strain, headaches and dizziness, blurry or double vision as well as general eye discomfort. There are various types of astigmatism including myopic, hypermetropic, mixed and astigmatism relating to children. The treatment options include prescribing glasses or contact lenses, laser surgery as well as orthokeratology, a contact lens which is fitted to the eye in order to reshape the cornea. Patients will be advised to wear them during the night while sleeping.
Cataracts are a common eye condition and are formed when the lens within the eye becomes cloudy. This reduces the ability to see and a person can have trouble reading, driving or even recognising facial expressions from other people. Early treatment can include wearing glasses and using brighter lighting though eventually, cataracts can obstruct vision enough for the person to require surgery. Ageing is a common reason for developing cataracts, however an eye injury, surgery to the eye, exposure to chemicals, smoking, stress and certain diseases can all contribute. There are several types which include age related, congenital, subcapsular, traumatic, cortical and diabetic. Once diagnosed by a routine examination, treatment will usually be surgery under a local anaesthetic by an ophthalmologist. An eye patch will be advised and post-surgery medication to aid healing.
Glaucoma, a common condition where the optic nerve becomes damaged and can lead to tunnel vision and even blindness if not treated early. The disease is complex in diagnosis and cannot be cured but a specialist can provide treatment which will slow or potentially stop the disease. Eyedrops, laser therapy and surgery (known as trabeculectomy) are treatments for glaucoma.
Hypermetropia is very common condition also known as farsightedness and is not a great concern. By visiting an optometrist within an optician, they will prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Symptoms include blurred vision when looking at objects closely. This is because light entering the eye travels behind the retina
Myopia is very common and is also known as near or short-sightedness. It can be diagnosed in various levels including mild, severe, degenerate, night and progressive. The resulting symptom is mainly blurred vision which happens when light entering the eye falls in front of the retina. Squinting, eye strain and headaches are all common signs of near-sightedness. Glasses and contact lenses are the most common treatment of myopia.
Presbyopia is related to age and a form of farsightedness. It is when the elasticity of the lens decreases and so focusing on nearby objects is difficult. People diagnosed will experience symptoms including headaches, fatigue, burry vision of objects close to them and eye strain. Glasses contact lenses and laser eye surgery are all possible treatments.
Retinopathy is mostly related to diabetes. This is because high blood sugar over time can cause damage to blood vessels within the retina. When checked, the specialist with consider the growth of the abnormal blood vessels, and will diagnose as either proliferative, which means they are growing or non-proliferative which means non-growing. Treating retinopathy usually begins with managing and controlling diabetes, that will include watching blood sugar levels, exercise, checking glucose levels with a glycosylated haemoglobin test and keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Additional treatments are also focal and scatter laser treatment and a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.
If you are experiencing any sudden problems with your eyesight or have not been for a general eye exam for over two years, it is recommended to see an eye specialist.