Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about an eye test

No. When people wear the proper glasses they realise they can see more clearly and comfortably. What they may have considered normal and acceptable before is now inferior by comparison.

Yes. Diabetes can cause severe problems with your sight. It is very important that your eyes are checked every year, preferably with drops to dilate the pupil, so that the retina (back of the eye) can be examined thoroughly.

Any age really. A child’s eyes have finished developing by the time they are about eight years old. Some health authorities screen children in their area at around three years of age, although this is becoming rarer. If you are concerned, or if there are any members of your family with eye problems, then it’s best to have your child’s eyes tested. Children do not need to be able to read to have eye test.

It depends on who the patient is. A young, healthy person with no apparent problems will take about 30 minutes. Someone older, perhaps with high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma or other ailments can take much longer. The ophthalmic optician will determine what clinical tests are needed to provide the correct information for new glasses or contact lenses. If necessary, they may refer the patient for a medical opinion.

If there is glaucoma in the family, you may be more at risk of developing it. Glaucoma can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed in time, so be sure to have a regular eye examination. If you have a close relative with glaucoma and you are over 40, your eye test will be funded by the NHS.

If you’ve had your eyes checked and they are as good as you think, then your practitioner will have no objection to you having plain or tinted lenses in a frame of your choice, or contact lenses that can enhance or change the colour of your eyes.

If you have plastic lenses in your glasses then dry tissues will scratch them. It is better to use soapy water and a soft cloth. Glasses with anti-glare coatings should be cleaned with a special cloth and spray which we always provide free with your purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about contact lenses

Yes. A contact lens check doesn’t test for a range of health conditions that can only be detected at the back of your eyes. A contact lens check looks at the front surface of the eye and checks your vision with lenses in.

We also need to ensure that your prescription is up to date. Contact lens prescription are different from glasses prescriptions, as contact lenses sit on the surface of the eye whilst your glasses rest on your nose.

A contact lens prescription lasts for up to two years, but our optometrist will advise if you need to have more regular checks, depending on your individual eyes.

No, unless specifically told that you can by your eyecare practitioner. Sleeping in your lenses can be hazardous as it can lead to infection or damage to the cornea (front window of the eye).

It is important that you follow the advice of your practitioner. Not every solution will suit every patient, for the lenses they are wearing. If you do change your cleaning system for any reason, always inform your practitioner.

There are many kinds of contact lenses available now which will correct astigmatism, including daily disposable lenses, as well as other soft and gas permeable materials. Your practitioner may be able to fit you or may recommend a colleague if it is a specialist fitting.

No. There is a thin, transparent membrane which covers the inside of the eyelids and the outside of the eye. This forms a seal which prevents contact lenses – as well as grit, dust and other ‘foreign’ material – passing round to the back of the eye. It has been known for contact lenses to ‘hide’ beneath eyelids, but this is easily rectified.

You can now recycle your contact lenses and blister packaging at Observatory. We are supporting Acuvue UK and Terracycle UK to help reduce plastic waste. Any brand of contact lens and packaging can be recycled. Simply drop them in our recycling box in the store.

Yes. Research has shown that many people who drop out from contact lenses can be successful with modern lenses. Lens technology is constantly evolving – ask us about the latest developments.

No. There are hundreds of different types of contact lenses and thousands of different fittings. Each lens type needs to be fitted to meet your individual requirements. Contact lenses are not interchangeable and you should never change your lens type or the way you wear your lenses without speaking to us first.

Yes. Multifocal contact lenses are available for those who need different lens powers for distance and close work.

Yes, contact lenses have many advantages for sport because they provide all-round, natural vision, are more stable than spectacles and are not affected by rain, fog or reflections. They allow protective eyewear or sunglasses to be worn which means a lower risk of damage or injury. Soft contact lenses are generally the best choice for active sports as these tend to move less on the eye compared to rigid gas permeable lenses (RGP) and are less likely to be dislodged. For outdoor sports, your contact lenses can also incorporate protection from ultraviolet (UV) light.

It depends. If you are part of a contact lens scheme, the cost of your eye test and/or contact lens check is often included free. It is the advice of the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) that contact lenses only be purchased and worn after a registered contact lens practitioner has undertaken an initial contact lens assessment, and issued you with a contact lens prescription. Buying contact lenses online from unregulated overseas websites may increase the risk of eye infections, corneal abrasion and even corneal ulcers.

Ask yourself these three questions when you wear your lenses:

  1. Do my eyes feel good with my lenses
  2. Do my eyes look good – no redness
  3. Do I see well – no unusual blurring with either eye?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, leave your lenses off and consult your contact lens practitioner immediately who will advise you what to do next.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about children's eyes

If you have any concerns about your child’s vision you should book an appointment with us at the earliest opportunity. It is highly recommended that all children have a full eye examination before they start school. At least 1 in 5 children have an undetected vision problem which can affect their performance at school, so early detection can make a huge difference to their lives. Children do not know what is or isn’t normal.

Vision tests are no longer mandatory at schools, so don’t assume that their vision has been checked. Even the schools that still offer this, it is not an eye exam and there are many conditions that cannot be identified at a basic vision check. 

NHS eye tests are free to all children under 16 years, or under 19 if in full-time education.

Signs of possible eye problems in older children can include:

  • the eyes seem to point in different directions
  • complaining of headaches or sore eyes
  • problems with hand-eye co-ordination – for example, they may struggle to play ball games
  • regularly rubbing their eyes
  • sitting too close to the TV
  • loss of interest in activities that require extensive eye use
  • turning their head to look at something in front of them
  • problems reading – for example, they may need to hold books close to their face and they may lose their place regularly. 

See our page on visual stress for more information on difficulty reading.

Yes. Twice as many children in the UK are short-sighted (myopic) now compared to 20 years ago. This doesn’t just mean you need glasses – myopia increases the risk of eye disease developing later in life. No one is certain why myopia is increasing, but the best thing to do is encourage your children to spend time outdoors. Studies show that outdoor time delays the onset and final prescription due to the UV levels outdoors and the need for your eyes to continually change your distance vision.

There are new strategies that can slow the rate of myopia once it’s already occurred. Please make an appointment if you think your child might benefit.

Colour blindness is much more common in boys. You may notice a problem when your child is learning their colours. The most common difficulty is distinguishing between red and green, or blue and yellow. There are tests called Ishihara which you can check online, or make an appointment to see the optometrist.

We recommend that a child is at least 12 years old, although if your child is particularly responsible, they could start younger. A child needs to be able to put the lenses in and remove them safely. We recommend daily disposables to reduce the risk of contamination. Contact lenses are a great idea for teens who play sports, although should not be worn whilst swimming. We can order prescription swimming goggles for this.

Absolutely yes! Children’s eyes allow 70% more UV radiation to pass through than adults, resulting in long term eye complications. Up to 80% of your lifetime exposure to UV occurs before age 18. Children with blue eyes are at greater risk. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about colorimetry and visual stress

All or some of the following symptoms may be present:

  • Words moving, blurring or going double
  • Letters changing size or shape
  • Patterns or halos of colour in text
  • Red, sore, watery eyes
  • Headaches when reading

Signs to look out for that may indicate visual stress:

  • Misreading text or reading words in the wrong order
  • Missing out words or whole lines of text
  • Losing the place on a page when reading
  • Tiring quickly when reading
  • Moving closer to or further away from the book
  • Moving the book around on the desk or fidgeting continuously
  • Using a finger as a marker on the page
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently when reading
  • Poor comprehension of reading content

Some people may have all these symptoms but often people only suffer with one or two. It’s also harder for children to describe their symptoms or for them to know that what they’re seeing isn’t normal.

No. Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which causes the person with the condition to have problems with reading, writing, spelling as well as other things. People with dyslexia often suffer from visual stress and can benefit from overlays or tinted lenses. However, you can have visual stress but not be dyslexic.

We can diagnose and treat visual stress but not dyslexia. If a patient is diagnosed with visual stress and is struggling in other areas than just reading, we would advise a referral to an Educational Psychologist, as they are the only ones who can diagnose dyslexia.

The degree of improvement for each person differs. Some people experience improvements in reading age of one to two years very quickly. In others, the lenses may make it easier to read, but the improvement may be less dramatic because of other difficulties.

We have had some great success stories. You can read the story of Ethan here.

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