Our eye health should be just as important to us as our physical or mental health. Our eyesight is paramount to help us see, read, distinguish colours, light perception (tell the difference between light and dark) or depth perception (i.e. the size, depth or how far away an object is). Even though our eyesight is of vital importance to our everyday lives, many of us fail to look after our eye health by presenting for eye screenings regularly.
How often should we get a Vision Examination done?
It is often recommended to go for an eye exam every two years. However, the optician may recommend you to return for an eye exam sooner if they feel it is needed. At DeCare, we allow our members, both adults and children, to be proactive with their eye health and as part of their policy allows them to present for eye screening yearly.
What is a Vision Exam?
A comprehensive eye exam will involve a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist who will use the required tools and their training to detect any potential problems with our eyes or our bodies.
Initially, you will be taken to do an eye health screening test. Included in this part of the exam is;
- A digital photograph of the retina of both eyes to determine if the retina is healthy or not. Also, these photos will be kept on file to detect any changes in the retina for future examinations.
- An eye pressure test, which will involve a slight puff of air projected on each eye to detect glaucoma or diseases of the cornea.
- A visual field test will check if you have the ability to see out of the corners of the eyes and to detect any blind spots in your vision.
- An auto-refractor test will be carried out to determine if there is a need for prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Then, you will move into a private room with an optician to perform the next and final part of the vision examination. Tests in this part of the exam include;
- A visual acuity test which normally is performed using a letter chart, which will involve you reading letters going from large to small, with both eyes and then each eye separately.
- A colour blindness test will be used to determine if you have any issues with distinguishing different colours. Commonly, an inability to distinguish red or green can indicate colour blindness.
- A slit lamp test which involves a bright light being shone into each eye and allows different parts of the eyes to be examined.
Lastly, any personal recommendations (e.g. prescription glasses, contact lenses etc.) will be explained by the optician that performed the examination.
It is important to note that an eye exam differs from a vision screening test. A vision screening test is used when our eyesight needs to be checked, for example, when applying for a driving license. This type of test checks acuity, distance vision and eye coordination. However, this is not an in-depth examination and it can not be relied on to detect health or eye issues.
Why is it important to get regular vision exams carried out?
A vision exam will detect if prescription glasses or contact lenses are required. Eye- related conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma will also be detected in a vision exam. Over half of all loss of vision can be prevented if it is detected early. Often changes in our eyes present with no symptoms and if detected early, normally the changes can be corrected and will not develop into a bigger issue.
In addition to this, the eyes can provide an insight as to what is going on inside the body. The eyes are the only place where an unobstructed view of our blood vessels can be seen. Therefore, issues with our cardiovascular system can be detected such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Yet, 2 out of 3 people do not know that an optician can detect chronic health conditions. By regularly attending for your vision exams as required, health conditions that can be detected through our eyes can potentially be caught in the very early stages, without any other noticeable symptoms.
How does your DeCare Vision Plan & Other Schemes Help?
PRSI Optical Benefit – The treatment benefit scheme covers a free eyesight exam every two years, however, it does not cover tests for VDU’s or for driving licenses, for example. The treatment benefit scheme applies to insured workers and the self-employed.
Your DeCare vision policy provides you with immediate cover for eyewear or contact exams and VDU exams. Exams are 100% covered if you are using one of DeCare’s In-Network Opticians, if an out of network optician is used, you can still claim a certain amount of money back.
A medical card holder or someone dependent on a medical card holder can receive a free eye test and standard glasses every two years from the HSE.
Find a DeCare In-Network Optician Here: https://decare.ie/corporate/vision/vision-network/