The standard advice given to us by our optician is to get our eyes tested every 2 years, but just how seriously do most of us take this recommendation? Just like having regular dentist appointments, people often become complacent about such health checks, justifying it by saying ‘my vision is fine’ etc. The problem with statements like this is that often your vision changes so slowly, you wouldn’t actually realise it and you could consequently be driving below the legal visual driving requirements. If you can’t be convinced to have your eyes tested every 2 years, let me at least tell you about 3 visual symptoms you should never ignore:
1. Flashing lights / floaters
I have grouped these two symptoms together but they often appear in isolation. Both symptoms could mean that you have a retinal detachment which is a condition that needs medical attention immediately. It is extremely important to see your optician urgently as a retinal detachment is generally easily treated, providing it is picked up straight away.
A visual representation of floaters.
2. Distorted vision
This is an extremely serious visual symptom and should never be ignored. The best way to describe distorted vision is to say that straight lines look ‘wavy’ or ‘wobbly’. So if you close one eye and look at anything with a straight edge such as a door frame, it may appear as I described. This symptom could indicate that you have a type of macular degeneration that needs attention urgently. The sooner it is picked up the better the prognosis for the condition. There are now treatments which can at the very least stop the condition deteriorating further as long as it is treated early.
A visual representation of distorted vision.
3. Sudden reduction in vision
Most people’s vision slowly deteriorates over time and this is one of the main reasons it is recommended to have a regular eye test. However what is more concerning is if you ever notice a sudden reduction in vision. This could relate to any number of eye diseases, all of which could potentially be treated if they are picked up early enough.
In summary your eyes are precious and you should at least get them checked every 2 years. Half an hour of your time every 2 years is surely not too much to ask to ensure your eyes are healthy. In addition to this, if ever you notice any of the above symptoms or any other ‘new’ symptoms; you should always go to your optician immediately. The sooner any problems with your eyes are treated, the better the chance of preserving your vision. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the symptoms and ‘hope for the best’. Your eyes are fragile and once you have lost vision it can be difficult to get it back. Just remember it’s better to be over cautious than under cautious and if you take this mentality your eyes should last you a life time!
There are various resources on the web such as Treatment saver which offer you information on eye health amongst other things. Now go book yourself an eye test!
Tim Harwood is a qualified Optometrist and the founder of Treatment Saver whom specialise in Laser Eye Surgery.