If you read my last blog post, ‘Hunt the optometrist: round 4‘, you’ll know that I went for my ‘normal’ eye test a couple of weeks ago. I use the word ‘normal’ loosely, as sadly my pesky peepers will never again fit into that longed-for category. So fearful was I that the optometrist might find something wrong that I booked the very first eye test appointment of the day, just to ensure that I had time to hot-foot it up to Moorfields on the train if necessary. But I digress…
The reason I’m writing today’s blog post is not to talk about my own eye test, but yours, dear reader. Yes… yours! When did you last have an eye test? Normally (there’s that word again), people are advised to have one every two years. That includes children, in case you’re wondering. In fact, it’s particularly important for children to get their eyes tested regularly, as they may not be aware of what ‘normal’ (aaarrggh!) vision should look like, and any visual problems are likely to affect their educational development. It can be tricky keeping up at school with waffy vision. A standard eye test will take approximately 30 minutes every couple of years – that’s really not much of a commitment to make in order to look after your vision, is it? If you’re in the UK, you can even find vouchers for free eye tests – just Google ‘free eye test vouchers’.
Since my eye problems began, I’ve been keen to
nag harass threaten encourage people to realise the importance of taking care of their eyes by going for regular eye tests. Of course, the main reason for my concern is that if more people do this, any problems are likely to be picked up far more quickly and hence there won’t be even more people clogging up the already packed hospital eye clinics. This will be a huge plus for myself and my long-suffering eye buddies. But apart from that, here are a few more reasons why regular eye tests are so important:
- Some eye conditions don’t have any obvious symptoms and can progress very gradually – for example glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. An eye test can pick up early signs of sight-threatening conditions such as these, so that they can be treated swiftly, allowing a better chance of a successful resolution.
- Other health conditions – for example diabetes – can be detected as a result of an eye test. Again, once diagnosed, people can get treatment more quickly.
- Often people don’t realise that they need glasses or contact lenses because changes in eyesight can occur very gradually and people just assume that as they get older their eyesight will get worse. By having an eye test and sorting out any problems, people can improve their vision and therefore their quality of life. Why peer and squint if you don’t have to?!
- With the above in mind, it’s particularly important for people who drive to get their eyesight checked regularly, to ensure that they meet the requirements for driving.
- Eyes are the second most complex organ in the human body, after the brain, and you only get one pair. Treat them with respect.
- Finally, a frightening statistic from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: 80% of blind people in the world are avoidably so. Don’t find yourself contributing towards that statistic!
Faced with all that, why on earth do people not just ruddy well go and get their eyes tested regularly? I’m not entirely sure, but I think the main reasons are: misplaced confidence (i.e. “My eyesight is great; I don’t need an eye test!”); fear of having to wear glasses as it’s often associated with getting older; or just plain laziness. Regarding the first reason – if that’s the case, then go and get it checked and then you can gloat freely about having perfect eyesight. Concerning the second reason – your vision is far more important than your vanity: get a grip. As for the third reason – pffft, I have no time for laziness!
It frustrates me when people appear to be so blase about their sight, and when family or friends treat their eyes so casually I actually find myself getting genuinely upset about it. It’s a tricky one, because of course I don’t want to hassle people, and there’s only so much I can do on the encouragement front. I thought I’d cracked it with a certain person a few weeks ago by casually presenting her with a voucher for a free eye test, which I’d been given. This is someone who confessed to me some time ago that she hadn’t had an eye test since she was a child and when faced with my dropped jaw, she’d insisted that her sight was excellent and therefore she didn’t need a test. I was even more dismayed the other day when I mentioned the voucher and she replied that she might not use it after all! Horses and water sprang to mind and it was clear that there wasn’t much point in reitterating all the benefits of having regular eye tests. Instead, I stifled a frustrated groan, sighed a huge internal sigh of disappointment, and pointed out only half-jokily, “But you’re an intelligent person! Don’t pretend to be a stupid person – get an eye test!” I’m not sure whether she will, but I did ask her to pass the voucher on to someone else if she doesn’t intend using it herself.
I shall end this post with a plea directly to you, dear reader. Yes… YOU! Now, clearly you’re pretty intelligent, wouldn’t you agree? Have you had an eye test in the past couple of years? If not, please go and get it sorted. Don’t pretend to be a stupid person.