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4 ways an eye test could save your life

Reasons for attending an eye examination don’t stop at determining what prescription you need, but also because an eye test can potentially save your life. In fact, hundreds of lives could be saved each and every year if more people just attended regular, routine eye exams.

Many diseases and conditions often begin with little or no obvious symptoms, yet they can be picked up in a routine eye test. If spotted early, a diagnosis of one of these devastating illnesses can be life-saving. We recommend having an eye test every two years to check the health of your eyes, as well as any routine vision changes.

Here are four ways an eye test can save your life:

  • Brain tumours

Spotting a brain tumour early can be a matter of life and death. Over 5,000 people lose their lives to a brain tumour each year, while over 10,600 people are diagnosed, according to the Brain Tumour Charity.

An optometrist (also known as an optician) can check for blurred vision and monitor unusual pupil dilation and the colour of the optic nerve. A Visual Fields diagnostic test can assist in the diagnosis. This test is widely available within optometry practices today. If anything looks out of the ordinary, you'll immediately be referred to a neurologist.

  • Heart disease

Cardiovascular disease kills someone in the UK every three minutes, according to the Heart Research Institute. An optometrist can spot a white ring around the cornea (the clear surface of your eye), which can be an indicator of high blood cholesterol, a common contributor to coronary heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.

  • Multiple Sclerosis

The average life expectancy for people with MS is around five to ten years lower than average, according to the NHS. For around 1 in 4 people, their MS diagnosis comes after experiencing problems with their eyes, including: temporary vision loss, colour blindness, eye pain and light flashes. If you experience any of these symptoms, please make an appointment to get an eye examination straight away.

Multiple sclerosis can cause swelling of the optic nerve, which creates a specific visual field defect called a ‘scotoma'. This is straight-forward to pick up during an eye examination.

  • High blood pressure

High blood pressure was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the UK in 2015, according to the Blood Pressure Association. It can often come with no visible symptoms, so often goes undiagnosed.

Many people discover they have high blood pressure following an eye test. It can cause burst blood vessels at the back of the eye – easily spotted during a routine eye exam.

Clinicians at Optical Express recommend that every patient undergoes an eye examination on a regular basis – as a minimum once every two years. In some cases, the optometrist will recommend an eye examination is performed more frequently than this. If a patient has any concerns in relation to their eyes or experiences headaches of any form, it is recommended that their first port of call is their local optician for an eye examination at the earliest opportunity.

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