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Hallux’s i-Guide: What happens at the opticians?

Visiting the opticians isn't anything to be scared about!

When you visit the optician, they’ll start by asking some general questions as to your health, whether you have any problems with your sight and questions also about your family’s ocular health history.

They will then carry out a number of tests using test charts, which enable them to assess your distance vision.

A Snellen Near Point chart is used to test your near vision.  Snellen chart tests can give an accurate measure of your eyes ability to see text and objects clearly at various distances.

The optometrist will then examine your eyes with instruments to check the internal and external structures of your eyes.


Eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration can be detected as well as any retinal abnormalities that may be a sign of other underlying conditions.

You may also be given an eye pressure check or a visual field examination to test for any blind spots in your peripheral vision.

The range of movement of your eyes will also be assessed to determine that your eye muscles are in working order.

Your colour vision may also be tested using specially designed colour vision plates.

If your eyesight needs some correction, the optician will then go through potential remedies and aid you in making the decision that is right for you and your eyes.

Corrective eyewear

If you need corrective eyewear (glasses or contact lenses), opticians will use a variety of equipment to ensure a correct fit.

These include:

  • A focimeter – to verify the correct prescription in a pair of eyeglasses, to properly orient and mark uncut lenses, and to confirm the correct mounting of lenses in spectacle frames.
  • A pupilometer – to measure pupillary distance to ensure any glasses are centred in the visual axis.

Things to look out for

When you visit the opticians, there’s loads of cool things you should see if you can spot.

These include:

  • Display of spectacle frames
  • Eye test charts
  • Trial frame (used when testing your sight)
  • Focimeter
  • Pupilometer

Maybe you could play eye spy?


Eye tests

Eye tests aren’t that scary! Most of the tests can be done without touching your eyes at all!

The optometrist might shine a light inside your eye with a gadget called an ophthalmoscope to have a look at what’s inside.

They’ll be checking the blood vessels inside your eyes and what the optic disc – that’s where the optic nerve joins the eye, looks like.

They might even take photographs of the inside of your eyeball.  They’ll keep these so they have a history about how your eye changes over time.  Say cheese!

To make it easier and to keep you nice and still, you might have to rest your chin on a special machine.   It might make you feel a bit blinky but it shouldn’t hurt at all.

It’s really important to get your eyes tested!

Optometrists are experts in healthy eyes and by having regular checks, problems can be spotted and you can get the help you need to see more clearly.


Dispensing opticians

A dispensing optician will provide advice and look at your prescription to recommend lenses, tints and coatings that provide the best vision.

They will suggest suitable spectacle frames and take measurements to ensure the glasses fit correctly and comfortably.

The word ‘Opticians’ also means a place, normally a shop, where you get your eyes tested and where you can get things like contact lenses or glasses and cleaning materials to keep them working.

Now glasses are so cool that some people wear pretend ones as a fashion accessory! But for people who need them to see clearly, dispensing opticians are brilliant at making sure you get glasses that suit the shape of your face.

They’ll also ensure that the lenses are correct and adjust the frames to ensure they fit your nose and ears, and don’t have any pinch points.  There’s nothing more irritating than if your glasses keep sliding down your nose!

So if you need glasses, let them do all the hard work and all you have to do is choose some cool frames!

Next: Why do people wear sunglasses?

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Hallux’s i-Guide

Find out all about your eyes with Professor Hallux's i-Guide!

More From Hallux’s i-Guide