A lot of the time, people with 20/20 vision don’t think they need an eye test. However pin-sharp eyesight doesn’t automatically give you the all-clear.  An optometrist can look deeper and spot serious health problem.

Health insights

I’ve worn glasses since my 20s, so I’m used to having an eye test every two years. At my last examination at Cubitt’s, I needed a higher prescription, so upgraded to swanky frame, vari-focals with Transitions light intelligent lenses (these adapt to changing light).

But that was not all eagle-eyed optometrist Emily Mascall spotted. She noted a microaneurysm, a tiny bleed, at the back of my eye (see image below).

Mel’s eye test revealed a small bleed

Image of Mel's eye

I was referred for blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar level tests. All was fine. Emily referred a young boy to his GP when she spotted a swollen optic nerve she feared was a brain tumour. It was but, thankfully, benign. Here’s a list of the health conditions your optometrist will be looking for…

Diabetes You may not have been diagnosed, but raised blood-glucose level damage the tiny blood vessels around the retina at your eye test they’ll show up as tiny leaks from a damaged blood vessel.

Glaucoma a condition where pressure builds and damages nerve fibres and can eventually lead to blindness if untreated. When eye pressure is high you’ll be referred to an eye hospital. Treatment will help and minimise loss of sight.

Cataracts Not just for pensioners, clouding of the eye lens can start in your fifties. An optometrist can track the progress and will refer you for a simple lens replacement – a plastic one to replace the damaged lens – when the condition worsens.

Image of Mel's new glasses
Mel’s new frames (above)

Age-related macular degeneration A photograph of the back of your eye (digital retinal photography) will reveal any deterioration.  AMD is a condition where you lose central vision. If spotted early enough it can be slowed with supplements and diet changes.

Heart disease High cholesterol not only clogs up your arteries but the blood vessels in your eye. Blockages in your eye blood vessels could be an early sign of cardiovascular disease.

Cancer While eye cancer is rare in the UK, you’ll be checked for any growths and referred immediately. It’s recommended we protect our eyes from one cancer risk factor, UV light, all year round. In autumn and winter when we may not wear sunglasses, Transitions light intelligent lenses provide protection. These lenses automatically adjust to the light conditions and offer full protection from UV in the UK. I find them convenient as you only need one pair a day and they’re useful for outdoor exercise in the winter sun.

Prices for a standard prescription with Transitions light intelligent lenses at Cubitt’s cost from £225. Check out their stylish range here.