Diagnosing long-sightedness 

It's important for young children to have regular eye tests, so that any problems are detected early.

Most childhood eye conditions can be corrected. However, without treatment, they can lead to more serious problems that could affect your child's eyesight permanently.

Your child will have their eyesight checked several times as part of the routine screening programme. You can also make an appointment for your child to have their eyes tested at any time, if you are concerned about their vision.

Eye tests are free for children under the age of 16 (under 19 for those in full-time education).

Read more about eyecare entitlements and find your nearest optician.

It's also important for adults to visit their optician regularly. The College of Optometrists recommends that you have your eyes tested at least every two years.

Regular check-ups will help identify conditions such as long-sightedness at an early stage, so that corrective treatment can be given.

Eye tests

Eye tests are carried out by an optometrist and usually take 20-30 minutes. During the test, your vision and the health of your eyes will be checked.

An eye test will usually include:

  • checking your history and symptoms
  • an eye examination
  • a vision test

These are described below.

History and symptoms

The optometrist will start by asking whether you have any specific problems with your sight and how long it has been going on.

They may also ask about your general level of health, including any medication you take and your lifestyle.

Eye examination

An optometrist will check that your eyes are healthy and that you do not have any underlying medical problems.

They will examine the inside of your eye using an opthalmoscope, which is a torch that shines light through your pupil. This also tests your pupil reflexes (whether your pupils shrink in response to light).

Your eye movements and co-ordination will also be checked to make sure both of your eyes are working together.

Other tests may also be carried out, depending on your age and medical history. Eye conditions that your optician will be looking for include:

  • glaucoma – pressure changes in the eye that can damage the optic nerve
  • diabetic retinopathy – where high blood pressure and high blood sugar cause new blood vessels to form in the eye, which can obscure your vision

Vision test

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, your vision will usually be tested both with and without them (so remember to take them with you).

The optometrist will usually assess your distance vision, your near vision (for reading and close work) and your intermediate vision (for using a computer).

A simple visual acuity test will help the optometrist assess how good your vision is. You may be asked to read from a Snellen chart, which is a series of letters that become progressively smaller on each line.

Your optometrist will then carry out further tests to determine the extent of your problem, and the exact type of corrective lenses that you need.

After your eye test

After your eye test, the optometrist will discuss your results with you and the best course of action. This will usually be a prescription for glasses or contact lenses to correct any sight problems you may have.

If your eyesight is okay, you will receive a statement to confirm that no correction is needed. If you need medical treatment, you may be referred to your GP or hospital.

Read more about treating long-sightedness.

Children with long-sightedness who have a squint need to be monitored carefully to avoid a lazy eye developing.

Read more about the complications of long-sightedness.

Sight tests for children

Find out when children need eye tests, what the test involves and why it's important.

Media last reviewed: 27/04/2015

Next review due: 27/04/2017

Eye specialists

Opticians (optometrists) are specialists in diagnosing and treating poor eyesight. Depending on their training, they may also screen for some eye disorders and treat eye conditions. They work either in a hospital or clinic in the community.

Ophthalmologists are eye consultants, working in hospitals, who usually specialise in eye surgery.

Orthoptists also work in hospitals, and are specialists in diagnosing and treating eye disorders.

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2014

Next review due: 09/07/2016