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Common Eye Problems

Your optometrist will not only test your vision and, if necessary, prescribe glasses or contact lenses, but will also check closely for any early signs of eye disease or other medical condition.

Reasons to have an eye examination

Short sightedness

Short sightedness (myopia), also known as near-sightedness, occurs when light is focused in front of the retina causing distance vision to become blurred. Near vision, however, is usually clear. Short sight normally develops in childhood or adolescence and is often first noticed at school. Spectacles may need to be worn all the time or just for driving, watching TV or sports.

Long-sightedness (hypermetropia)

Long-sightedness (hypermetropia) occurs when light is focused behind the retina rather than on it, and the eye has to make a compensating effort to re-focus. This can cause discomfort, headaches or problems with near vision. Spectacles may need to be worn all the time or just for close work, such as reading, writing or computer use. In older people, as re-focusing becomes more difficult, distance vision may also become blurred.


Astigmatism occurs when the curvature of the cornea or lens is not perfectly round. It is sometimes described as the eye being shaped like a rugby ball rather than a football. Most people have a small amount of astigmatism, which may not need correcting. If vision is blurred or headaches occur, your optometrist may recommend glasses are worn all the time or just for specific tasks.


Presbyopia is the loss of focusing ability that occurs naturally with age. In younger people, the lens is very flexible and the eye has a wide range of focus from far distance to close up. As you get older, the lens slowly loses its flexibility leading to a gradual decline in ability to focus on near objects. Presbyopia is not a disease but a normal and expected change which sooner or later affects everyone, whether you already wear spectacles or contact lenses or not. Around the age of 40-45, you will begin to notice that you are holding the newspaper further away or need more light to read small print. There is no advantage in delaying using reading glasses, or changing to bifocals or varifocals. They will not make the eyes lazy. Your optometrist will advise you on the best form of vision correction to suit your individual lifestyle and occupation.

Driving and the law

As a driver, you are legally required to be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres and to wear your corrective prescription eyewear at all times when driving.

Make sure that you don’t get caught out when it comes to driving. Our opticians will ensure that your prescription is correct, up-to-date and will answer any queries you may have about driving and the law.

Some tips for driving and the law:

  • Have your vision checked at least every two years
  • Keep a spare pair of glasses in your car (In Europe, you have to by law)
  • Keep a pair of prescription sunglasses in the car to combat bright sunlight, especially in the winter when the sun is low.
  • Carry a glasses cleaning kit in your car so you can keep your lenses dust free

Am I entitled to a free eye test or glasses?

You qualify for a free NHS-funded sight test if you come into one of the following groups:

  • You’re under 16, or under 19 in full-time education
  • You’re 60 or over
  • You’re registered as blind or partially sighted
  • You’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or glaucoma
  • You’re 40 or over, and have a close relative with glaucoma
  • You’ve been advised by an ophthalmologist that you’re at risk of glaucoma
  • You’re a prisoner on leave from prison
  • You’re eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher – we can advise you on this.

You’re also entitled to a free NHS sight test if you:

  • Receive Income Support
  • Receive Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

If you’re named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3), you may get some help towards the cost of your sight test.

You will also get a voucher towards the cost of your glasses or contact lenses if one of the following applies:

  • You’re aged under 16, or aged under 19 and in full-time education or
  • You’re eligible for an NHS complex lens voucher (your optician will advise on your entitlement)
  • You receive Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not contribution-based).
  • You receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit.
  • You receive Income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
  • You’re entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
  • You are named on a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).
  • People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

Hepworth Opticians offer a wide range of complete spectacles at the voucher price. You may of course decide you want to “trade up” – but if you have a voucher there will always be glasses you can have completely free. And even if you are not entitled to a voucher towards your glasses cost, there will always be a competitively priced range of choices available.

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