Go when you need to
That sounds obvious, but it's advice we'll always recommend. Go for a check-up whenever you feel like there's a change in your eyesight. If reading something close up or far away has become a problem. If the TV doesn't look quite so sharp. And especially if you notice it when driving, like having difficulties reading road signs. Book an appointment for an eye test and get on top of things.
Your first visit
If you've never had an eye test before, it's natural to have a few nerves or not see the value, especially if you're a bit sensitive to things going near your eye. But don't worry, the practitioners are experts in their field and will have your best interests at heart. We've also written about what to expect during an eye check-up which hopefully will settle your mind.
Age plays a role
Your eyes degenerate over time; it's only natural. Even if you have glasses or contact lenses, you should monitor changes to your sight and arrange an eye test if you're concerned.
A change to your vision isn't necessarily a cause for concern. If your eyesight isn't quite so clear anymore, there's no need to panic. But do be sure to visit the opticians as soon as you can.
Driving and your eyes
As part of the DVLA guidelines, we must be able to read a number plate 20 metres away. In every practical driving test, your examiner will start by asking you to read a number plate to verify your vision. If you fail this, you fail the whole exam. And if you're driving a lorry or a bus, the standards will be higher.
A lot of us spend our working days sitting at a desk and typing away at a computer, whether that’s in an office, at home, or a combination. But after four+ hours of staring at a screen, our eyes can start to feel tired or strained. We might get itching or a dry sensation in the eyes, even headaches and difficulty focusing.
There are ways to self-help at work. You can add to your working routine:
- Frequent pauses, looking away from the screen - Take advantage of the 20-20-20 rule. Easy to remember the name, not so easy to remember to do it. For every 20 minutes on a screen, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Set a reminder to give you a nudge; your eyes will thank you
- Follow the advice - The experts know what they're talking about. Wear your glasses or contact lenses for reading screens only when advised to do so by your optometrist.
- Blink regularly – not just the usual, half-a-second ones. Take some slow, deliberate blinks. It'll help moisten the eyes, reducing the dry sensation.
- Find a good light - Ensure that you're working in a well-lit environment, without light reflecting off the computer screen. You don't want glare, and you don't want to be overstraining.
All this still applies when you log off and head home. When we finish a day using a medium screen, we sit down and watch the big screen while using a small screen. Think of your eyes!
As for check-ups, stick to the same rules - every two years, unless you notice a change or if your optometrist recommends you to be seen more regularly. Mention to your optometrist if you use computers a lot. That knowledge will help them with the test, and they may also suggest additions to your next set of glasses. If you do not wear glasses, you may be provided with some guidance to help you look after your eyes when using computer screens.
It could be worth having a word with your HR or Benefits team at work as well. You might be lucky and have your eye tests provided for free, or at a discounted rate.