What is an eye test?


Eye tests are an important way to check that your vision is as good as it can be, and to make sure you're wearing the correct glasses or contact lenses if you need them.

However, eye tests don't just check whether you need glasses. They also check for potential conditions such as diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma (where the optic nerve is damaged in the eye) and macular degeneration (an age-related condition that affects the middle part of the vision). Early detection makes treating these conditions easier and more effective.

How often should I have my eyes tested?

For adults and children with healthy eyes, we recommend an eye test every two years. More frequent check-ups are recommended for:

  • Children who wear glasses
  • People with diabetes (who aren't already having annual retinal screening)
  • People aged 40 or over with a family history of glaucoma
  • People aged 70 or over, if necessary
  • People with an eye condition that needs monitoring more often

Your optician knows your eye health best and will recommend how often you should have your eyes checked.

What happens during an eye test?

Your optician will thoroughly test your eyesight, at both near and far distances. They'll also check how your eyes change focus between near and far objects.

They'll look for eye conditions such as cataracts, which become more common as we grow older. They'll also examine the general health of your eyes, looking for any sign of conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

You may also have other tests:

  • An eye pressure test (where a puff of air is blown into your eye to check for early signs of glaucoma)
  • A visual field test (where you monitor flashing lights on a screen. This also tests for early signs of glaucoma)
  • A digital retinal photograph (this gives your optician a record of your eye health so they can monitor changes over time)

The time taken to complete your eye test will vary according to your individual needs, but will generally last between 30 minutes and an hour. If you have more complex needs, it may take longer.

Next steps

  • Have your eyes tested at least every two years, even if your vision is fine. Some eye problems don't cause symptoms until they've progressed quite far
  • Children should also have an eye test at least every two years, or more often if your optician advises and should always have one before they start school