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Woman wearing glasses

How to tell if you need glasses?

Do you need glasses?

Struggling to see clearly can make life difficult, whether you need to see on the road when you drive or read writing on the board at school. If you have impaired vision, it could affect your performance in many ways. But how do you know if you need spectacles? 

Not everyone is keen on donning a pair of specs, especially with the 90s stigma of it being “uncool” to have four eyes still burned into our minds. But, these days, spectacles have moved from ‘dorky’ to trendy, a fashion statement of sorts, with many people choosing to wear non-prescription versions to match their outfits. 

How do you know if you need glasses?

There are a few signs and symptoms, besides blurry vision, which indicate that you should go and get your eyes tested. 

Agustin Gonzalez, OD, FAAO, an optometrist in private practice in Richardson, Texas, told All About Vision; “The classic symptoms of needing glasses include headaches, eye aches, frowning and squinting. Flashes and floaters, sudden loss of vision or eye pain are things that should be looked at immediately.”

People who need glasses also sometimes experience double vision, seeing “halos” around lights and even have eyes that are sensitive to bright lights.

What is the difference between an optometrist, an opthalmologist and an optician?

This is a common question amongst patients who want to know where they should book an appointment. 

“An optometrist is an eye doctor that can examine, diagnose and treat your eyes. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who can perform medical and surgical interventions for eye conditions”, Healthline explains. An optician fits eyeglasses and other vision-correcting devices such as contact lenses.

There are many types of eye doctors in South Africa, but an optometrist is the one who will test your eyes to see if you need glasses. 

What happens in an eye test for glasses?

When you book an eye test, you need to call the optometrists office and get the next available date from the secretary. Consultations start from around R600, depending on where you live. 

On the date you have received, go in a few minutes early and get accustomed to the rooms. Usually, there are display cabinets filled with frames and styles of spectacles, all ranging in colours, size and price. Brand name spectacles are generally more expensive. This is an excellent time to have a look at them while you wait, so make a mental note of the ones you like that are within your budget. 

Your eye test is a series of visual exercises, conducted by your optometrist/optician. They will look at your eyes through a series of machines; testing your eye pressure, and the actual, physical health of your eye. 

Then, they will check your vision by asking you to describe things that you see on the screen in front of you. Usually, the screen is a projected image, and the room’s lights will be off to illuminate the projection. There may be a series of numbers, letters and pictures that you will have to read or describe.                  

Then, you will need to look at the same visual content through different combinations of various prescription lenses. At this point, it is essential to be as accurate as possible in the answers that you give. They will ask you to compare which lenses make you see better, or worse. This is how the optician measures what your prescription will be if you need glasses or contact lenses. Both of these prescriptions will be the same. 

Are there different conditions that can affect one’s vision?

Yes, different types of conditions affect the eye, and this can also alter your prescription. The most common terms used in deciding on what kind of lenses and prescription you will need is far-sightedness and near-sightedness. 

Farsighted people are only able to see things that are a particular distance away from them. They usually cannot see things that are up close, like words on a page. Near-sighted people have the opposite issue. They may be able to see perfectly fine at a close range, but struggle to see things that are in the distance. 

Other common ailments include Presbyopia, which is the normal loss of near focusing ability, prevalent in patients after the age of 40, and Cataracts, which is the clouding over the eye’s natural lens and also occurs with advanced age.

Do you have computer vision syndrome?

A more recent eye condition that affects a large part of the new generation is something called “computer vision syndrome”, and yes it is a real thing. Due to the time people spend looking at phones and laptops, excessive exposure to screen light and rays has started to affect our eyes and brains.

Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, red eyes, burning, light sensitivity, headaches and pain in the shoulders, neck and back.

We advise getting glasses if you spend your days looking at screens, especially if it is part of your day job.

Does Affinity Health cover glasses?

Great News! Affinity Health’s day-to-day cover offers a benefit for optometry. Affinity has a partnership with Specsavers, which includes an annual eye test per beneficiary and free lenses, and frames every 24 months. You must obtain these services from a network-registered optometrist, and call for pre-authorisation before your consultation. There is a limit put on prescriptions of white standard mono or bifocal lenses with a basic frame.

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