How often should I have an eye exam?

It is recommended that everyone should get their sight checked at least every two years, even for those who feel have perfect sight. It is important that regular checks of the ocular health be maintained to avoid any potential problems in the future and will detect any problems at an early stage. Your optician will advise you if more frequent check-ups are needed.

Why are regular eye exams important?

Regular eye exams are important, as during an eye exam, your optician does much more than just look at your sight. They check your eye for common diseases, assess how your eyes work together and evaluate your eyes as an indicator of your overall health. Regular Eye Exams are important regardless of your age or health.

I don’t think I have any problems with my eyesight, do I still need an eye exam?

Yes – Regular Eye Exams are important regardless of your age and physical health. By dilating your pupils and looking inside the eyes, Our Optometrist will be able to detect early signs of various life and sight-threatening diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Together with other tests, we can also detect neurological disease and glaucoma, a potentially blinding disease if left untreated.

Early detection and prevention are crucial to the successful treatment of these diseases. It is recommended that young, healthy individuals have their eyes examined at least once every two years if they are not a contact lens wearer and annually if they are.

What is myopia (short-sightedness)?

If a person is having problems seeing objects at a distance but can see things up close clearly, they are generally considered to be myopic. This can often become a problem during adolescence and is easily corrected with spectacles or contact lenses.

What is hyperopia (long-sightedness)?

Think of your eyes as an important part of your overall health care routine – just like your annual checkup with your general physician. Even if your eyes feel fine, it’s important to get them checked because a lot of vision problems don’t present obvious problems and may not even affect your vision in the short-term.

There are many variables that affect how often you should see your optician – for example, if you are diabetic or have other risk factors you may need more frequent exams in order to catch problems early. Otherwise, most people will be fine seeing the optician once a year.

Why do I need glasses?

Most people will need spectacles or contact lenses at some point during life for a variety of reasons including nearsightedness {myopia}, farsightedness {hypermetropia}, astigmatism, and reading difficulties {presbyopia’}.

The normal eye: The normal eye can see without spectacles because light from a distant object is focused on the retina by the cornea and the lens.

Nearsighted eye (‘myopic eye’): Myopia occurs when the eyeball is slightly longer than usual from front to back. This causes light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface.

Nearsighted people have difficulty reading road signs and seeing other objects at a distance, but can see for up-close tasks such as reading or sewing.

Farsighted eye (‘hyperopic eye’): This vision problem occurs when light rays entering the eye focus behind the retina, rather than directly on it. The eyeball of a farsighted person is shorter than normal.

People with hyperopia can see distant objects very well, but have difficulty focusing on objects that are up close.

Astigmatism: Astigmatism might be the most misunderstood vision problem. Even the name is challenging to many people, who incorrectly call it “stigmatism.”

In an eye with astigmatism, light fails to come to a single focus on the retina to produce clear vision. Instead, multiple focus points occur, either in front of or behind the retina (or both). Astigmatism usually causes vision to be blurred or distorted to some degree at all distances.

Presbyopia (reading difficulty): Presbyopia usually occurs beginning at around age 40, when people experience blurred near vision when reading, sewing or working at the computer.

You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before. Even people who are nearsighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

Can I get my eye exam on my PRSI?

The Treatment Benefit Scheme is available to insured workers and retired people who have the required number of PRSI contributions. Under the scheme you may qualify for a free eye exam.

Go to the contact us page for full details on how to claim.

Can I get glasses on my medical card?

If you are a Medical Card holder you could be entitled to a free eye examination every 2 years and free glasses.

To claim your Medical Card benefit you must first apply to your Health Board. Email us for an application form, and we will gladly help with completion and post it to for you. Once you have received your authorisation from the Health Board, just call us for an appointment. Remember, you must bring in your form at the time of your appointment to claim your benefit.

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Jill Farrell

F.A.O.I (Optometrist)

Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre
Gouldshill, Mallow, Co. Cork