Ask the Optician

The Eye Examination is free of charge to those with sufficient PRSI contributions ( including self-employed) and those with a full medical card.

You are also entitled to free spectacles from a selected range. If you choose outside of this range, you can avail of an allowance towards your spectacles.

Myopia is also called shortsighted. This means that you can see things up close but far away objects are hazy. It often runs in families. It can start in early teens therefore it is important for all school going children to have their eyes checked yearly.

Hyperopia is also called longsighted. If your longsighted prescription is low you can see everything but as you get older your ability to see near and far becomes less. A high Rx means you may need spectacles for reading at a younger age.

Astigmatism is an oval shaped eye. A lot of eyes are round in shape like a soccer ball and some are oval like a rugby ball.

The ability of the eyes to focus on near objects is at its best in our youth, but as we get older this is gradually lost and we need some help in the form of spectacles for reading. This normally occurs at around the age of 40.

A squint is where the eyes are not properly aligned with each other. It typically involves a lack of co-ordination between the eye muscles so that the direction of gaze between the two eyes is different i.e there is a turn in the eye. It can affect one eye only or can be alternating between eyes.

A cataract occurs when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy or misty. This results in hazy vision. It is a gradual process that usually happens as we get older. The early stages of a cataract do not necessarily affect your sight. The only proven treatment for cataract is surgery. You can be referred for surgery once the cataract gets to the stage where it affects your sight.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, is damaged by the pressure of the fluid inside your eye. This may be because the pressure is higher than normal. It can affect one or both of your eyes. Because you cannot feel the pressure, and the damage happens slowly, you may not know you have glaucoma until a lot of damage has been done. If you have glaucoma it is important that you are diagnosed early. Treatment with eye drops may stop it getting worse. Anyone with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye exam every year.

People with diabetes may lose some vision because the blood vessels at the back of the eye may leak some fluid. If you are diabetic it is important that you have your eyes examined on an annual basis. Any damage due to the diabetes can be identified early and appropriate referral and treatment given.

The macula is an area at the back of your eye that you use for seeing fine detail such as reading a book. Macular degeneration happens when this area becomes damaged. This can lead to some loss of central detailed vision. One of the most common symptoms of MD is noticing that straight lines appear wavy

Floaters look like small, dark spots or strands that appear to float in front of your eyes. Floaters are very common and are normally harmless. They are more common if you are shortsighted, have has eye surgery or as you get older

Some peoples notice they see flashes of light. These can be due to movement of the gel insode the eye.

Very occasionally, flashes or an increase in floaters can be sign of a retinal tear or detachment, which needs treating as soon as possible.