by Robert James
It’s estimated that 61% of the population require reading or visual aids, so while it’s not a rare health condition, it’s certainly a complex one, as the signs that you need eye care assistance aren’t always obvious. These visual aids can include wearing glasses full time, wearing prescription reading glasses occasionally or even using magnifiers for low vision.
If you didn’t join the glasses club as a small child, you may have no idea that your vision is impaired. Often, our eyesight deteriorates gradually, so if you don’t know that what you’re seeing isn’t normal, why would you question it?
However, optics is an interesting branch of healthcare. As we use our eyes all day, every day, the consequences of using them the wrong way can not only affect how we view the world but also our health.
Below are four signs to look out for that may mean you need to schedule an eye exam.
1. Frequent Squinting
Perhaps the most obvious sign that you need glasses is frequently squinting your eyes to see something more clearly when your vision is blurred. Interestingly, you probably don’t realise how much you do it unless you catch sight of yourself in a mirror or when a friend points this out.
Think of your eyes like a camera — they process and capture light as a lens does, so in order to focus on things near and far, the lens will change shape to match your viewing needs. However, much like when photographs are overexposed, your eyes can be overwhelmed by too much light too. As a result, you squint to block out unnecessary light to focus on what you want to see, just like narrowing the lens on your camera.
As this is a repetitive motion on a daily basis, it’s an unhealthy strain on your eyes — fortunately, it’s one that can be fixed by glasses.
2. Eye Fatigue
If you notice that your eyes often feel tired or irritated after using them intensely to focus on activities, such as reading, driving or computer work, then it’s possible you’re straining them too much.
Eye strain is a prevalent health condition that is becoming even more frequent due to our increased usage of smartphones, computers and tablets. In fact, Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is a real condition, and it’s estimated that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms of eye strain.
CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive nature of our eyes following the same path over and over, so it can get worse the longer you continue the movements. Take regular breaks from these activities and try the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If the problem persists, it’s time to pay the optician a visit.
3. Tension Headaches
A tension headache is the most common type of headache and one we’re all likely to experience at some point. We often think of it as a normal, everyday headache, but this is because they’re caused by lifestyle triggers, such as frequently squinting your eyes, stress and poor posture.
This type of headache may feel like pressure behind your eyes or an ache that affects both sides of your head. If you’re getting tension headaches regularly, it may well be connected with your eyes, so it’s worth getting it checked out.
4. Difficulty Seeing at Night
Nyctalopia (also known as night blindness) is a type of vision impairment where you’re unable to adapt to low-light conditions, such as at night time. As a result, it’s important to find the cause and look at options to correct it to keep yourself and others safe.
Nyctalopia presents itself through a few symptoms. You may find it challenging to move around the house in dim light, driving may become increasingly difficult at night or it might take you an abnormally long time to adjust to a light room after being in the dark.
There are a few different conditions that can result in nyctalopia, including nearsightedness (myopia), which is when you’re unable to see objects in the distance accurately. For most people with myopia, eyeglasses are the primary choice for correction.
If you think you may be struggling with any of these four symptoms, it may well be down to your eyesight needing a little extra support. It’s best to get examined by an optometrist for an accurate diagnosis.
John Rogerson is an Ophthalmic Technician at Online Opticians UK, which provides affordable, high-quality glasses and sunglasses for men and women.