At what age should you get a general eye check-up?
You should get a general eye check-up every one to three years between the ages of 40 and 55, every one to two years between the ages of 55 and 65 and thereafter every year. By regularly undergoing a check-up with a routine eye examination, the ophthalmologist will be able to detect whether you have glaucoma, a cataract, diabetic eye disease or ageing maculopathy.
It is important to detect any eye diseases at an early enough stage so you can start treatment with drops or undergo laser treatment, which can help to delay or avoid eye surgery and ultimately prevent loss of vision altogether. Glaucoma is an eye condition that affects all ages but is most common in older adults.
Continue reading to familiarise yourself with any routine examinations you should know about before you go for an eye check-up to detect for glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
The two main types of glaucoma are; primary open-angle glaucoma and narrow-angle or angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma has to be detected at a routine eye examination, as you are unlikely to have any symptoms until the disease is very advanced. Angle-closure glaucoma, by contrast, presents with intermittent or constant severe headache, pain in or above the eye, some nausea, blurred vision, or seeing halos around street lights, particularly in dim-ish visibility at sunset. If you do experience any of these visual symptoms, you should seek an immediate ophthalmology consultation.
There are different types of glaucoma, where some people have higher risk factors than others – thus, glaucoma is not just one disorder, as each patient has a different risk profile. Some patients are at greater risk of getting glaucoma because they are of African or Afro-Caribbean descent, or if there is a family history of glaucoma. As such, if you are Afro-Caribbean or have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a general eye check-up every one to two years, at the younger age of 35, as opposed to waiting until you are 40 since your risk of glaucoma is higher than that of the general population.
By having a regular check-up with a routine eye examination, the ophthalmologist will be able to detect whether you have glaucoma if the optic nerve is damaged.
The ophthalmologist may well dilate the pupil, but if you are at risk of angle-closure glaucoma, they will not dilate the pupil. They will measure the intraocular pressure with a Goldmann applanation tonometer, called “GAT”, which is very accurate. The ophthalmologist will use topical local anaesthetic drops for this. They will examine your retina directly using lenses at the slit lamp, and they are likely to do additional diagnostic tests.
Additional eye tests
These can include the visual field analysis and colour and black-and-white imaging of your optic disc, macula and retina, called the “SLO” (scanning laser ophthalmoscopy) – and autofluorescence.
They may also do an OCT,(ocular coherence tomography), of the back of the eye, at the optic disc, and the front of the eye, to look at the angle between the cornea and the iris, where the aqueous drainage occurs.
If that angle is found to be narrow, this helps to support the diagnosis of narrow or closed-angle glaucoma. They will do additional lens tests with a gonioscope, to look at the angle of the eye on the slit lamp. Usually, the ophthalmologist can do these tests without dilating drops, which make your pupil look very dilated and blurs your vision.
The particular factors your ophthalmologist is interested in include; whether there is high intraocular pressure over the level of 20 mmHg, and whether there is already any visual loss from glaucoma. Although high intraocular pressure (IOP) is frequently, but not always, associated with glaucoma, it provides a good guideline as to whether you have developed the condition.
Field of vision
Generally, glaucoma is accompanied by gradual visual field loss which can be detected by the visual field tests.
If you would like to know more about a general eye check-up, and you are concerned about glaucoma, you should contact Clinica London and talk to Lizzie Granger or Jenny Burrows in reception.
All of our consultants can do a general eye check-up including Ms Laura Crawley, Mr Jaheed Khan, Mr Sajjad Ahmad, Professor Michaelides and Miss Jane Olver for adult patients. However, if there is a strong family history or concern about glaucoma, then you should see our glaucoma specialist, Ms Laura Crawley.
Ms Crawley works in the NHS, at the Western Eye Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital, both of which are part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. She also carries out private practice ophthalmology at Clinica London.
We will be pleased to assist you in getting a general eye check-up, whatever your age, but particularly after the age of 40, or after the age of 35 if there are concerns that you may have glaucoma.