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Eye tests

An eye test chart on a wall showing different sized letters, from big to small
A Snellen eye test chart.
The ways of getting your eyes tested are either at school where they may test all the teenagers children at a specific age (the age at which these tests are done are different in different schools in different parts of the country), or by you going to an optician and having them do a check if you are worried about not being able to see properly. If you have an eye test at school, all they will probably do is to get you to read off a chart (called a Snellen chart) which has big letters at the top and smaller and smaller ones as you go down. If you can't read this chart properly the person testing your eyes at school will then ask you to go and see an optician and have your eyes tested further. Opticians will test your eyes by:
  • Seeing what letters you can read off the Snellen chart which has big letters at the top and smaller and smaller ones as you go down - again.
  • They will look into your eye with a special light called an ophthalmoscope so that they can see the "retina" at the back of your eye, which is the bit that is sensitive to light and sends the light messages to your brain.
  • If you have had any trouble seeing clearly, they will get you to read the chart of letters again but putting different lens in front of your eyes to see if the lens make it easier for you to read (these lens focus the outside world clearly on the back of your eyeball).
  • They will also give you a colour blindness test (this may also be done at your school when you are about 13) where you have to read a book in which the pages are made up of lots of different coloured dots and you need to see if you can see a number in the dots. If you can"t tell the difference between the colours green and red, which is what happens if you are colour blind, then sorry, but you can't become an airline pilot or electrician! Just less than 1 in 10 boys and 1 in 200 girls have colour vision problems. This is a fixed thing and does not "come" or "go" - you are born with it and it stays with you for a lifetime.
If you have any worries about your eyesight please get your eyes tested - because it is so easy to make sure that you can see clearly. You may not realise how out of focus you have been seeing things until you have had your eyes tested!
Watching TV or reading in a poor light does not damage your eyes!

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