I believe that I was around 12 or 13 years old when I had my first sight test.
I had been a regular visitor at the dentist, a place that my mother took my sisters and I to like clockwork from a young age. I even remember a little excitement about these visits as we would be given a sticker and a balloon afterwards.
However, the opticians and the importance of regular sight tests was not on her radar until I came home from school complaining about having trouble reading text.
As practitioners, I'm sure that, sadly, stories like this are all too familiar.
My work took me away from my desk last week and down to the south west where I had the opportunity to speak to a patient before and after their first-ever sight test – at the mature age of 36. His reasons for putting off the test were interesting – I’ll tell you more about that soon.
The optometrist at the independent practice I visited explained to the patient the importance of regular sight tests, not just for vision but for eye health also, and – his fear overcome – he pledged to visit again in two years, as recommended.
While the demographic of the ‘average’ patient at this practice was 60 years old and over, the optometrist is working in his community to raise awareness of eye health at all ages, embracing school visits to reach the younger group.
Explaining why he felt these visits were important, he told me: “We all know that between the ages of four and seven is a really critical period for vision, and during someone’s school years it’s important to have regular checks so that problems can be picked up early.”
OT’s June edition will be themed ‘Project Optometry,’ in which we will explore some of the many ways that practitioners can educate patients and raise awareness of optometry, sight tests and eye health locally – your copy will be landing through your letter box at the end of the month.