When was the last time you had an eye test? Eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and refractive error can lead to blindness or vision loss over time.
They often develop slowly with no obvious symptoms in the early stages, so you may not notice your vision changing. The good news is most blindness and vision loss can be prevented or treated, if detected early.
Regular eye tests are essential to ensure these eye conditions are detected early, before sight is lost. For example it is estimated that up to 50 per cent of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it, which is why it is so important to have regular eye tests.
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The risk of developing an eye condition increases as people enter their 40s, while people who smoke, have diabetes, have a family history of eye disease or are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, are also at increased risk. If you are more at risk, it is especially important to have regular eye tests to ensure eye problems are detected early to prevent avoidable vision loss.
An eye test is a comprehensive check of the health of the eyes. It is painless and takes around 25 minutes. You don’t need a referral from a doctor – just contact your local optometrist. Many people can access a Medicare rebate covering some or all of the cost of an eye test. Some people may be eligible for subsidised, low-cost glasses.
As well as getting your eyes tested, there are some simple things that you can do to reduce the risk of developing an eye condition:
- Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are outdoors
- Use protective eyewear when playing sports or working in a hazardous environment
- Maintain a healthy diet along with plenty of exercise
- Quit smoking
- Keep good control of your diabetes (bloods glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels)
- Follow the advice of your eye health professional.
But remember, don’t wait for symptoms - have regular eye tests. To find an optometrist near you, go to optometry.org.au/vic/find-an-optometrist
For more information on eye health and vision care, or to find out more about services and supports available for people who are blind or vision impaired, speak to an optometrist, ophthalmologist or your GP, or visit visioninitiative.org.au
The Vision Initiative website has information in English, Arabic, Burmese, Cantonese, Dari, Greek, Hazaragi, Italian, Mandarin, Tamil and Vietnamese, including videos showing what happens during an eye test.
The Vision Initiative is an eye health promotion program funded by the Victorian government, and managed by Vision 2020 Australia.
It aims to prevent avoidable blindness and address the impact of vision impairment within the Victorian community.