The good thing about eye symptoms is that they’re often obvious. So it’s usually possible to catch problems early, when they can be treated and cured, or at least further deterioration can be prevented. Do the quiz to see if you need to take action.


  • Need glasses for reading or computer work?
  • Have a blurry or dim patch in the centre of your vision?
  • Find bright lights (such as headlights at night) dazzling?
  • Get tired or experience headaches or eye strain after prolonged reading or computer work?
  • Eat oily fish once or twice a week?
  • Have diabetes?
  • Smoke?
  • Find it difficult to drive at night?
  • See floaters regularly?
  • Have a family history of glaucoma?
  • Go for regular eye checks (at least every two years, or more often if recommended by your optician)?
  • Have high blood pressure?
  • Have difficulty reading small print on labels, such as medicine bottles?
  • Eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables most days?
  • Find it takes longer for your eyes to adapt when you come indoors after being in bright sunlight?
  • Sometimes find th at straight edges, such as door or window frames, appear wavy or distorted?
  • Know you have high cholesterol?
  • Have dry, itchy or irritated eyes?
  • Feel that colours are not as vivid as they once were?
  • Have red or inflamed eyes with no obvious cause?
  • Feel as if your visual field is narrowing or that you’re looking down a tunnel?
  • Find your eyes are irritated by strong sunlight or wind?

    Yes to Qs 1,3,8,13,15 or 19: you may have prebyopia, cataracts or other age-related eye changes. Be sure to see your optician regularly to have eyes tested.

    Yes to Qs 2, 16 or 21: These are potentially worrying symptoms. See your optician or doctor to make sure your vision is not compromised by serious eye disease.

    Yes to Qs 4, 9, 18 or 22: These problems are usually not serious and have simple solutions that can ease symptoms.

    Yes to Qs 5,11 or 14: Well done. All of these help to protect your eyes from serious problems.

    Yes to Qs 6, 7, 10, 12, 17 or 20: you may be at risk of eye disease. Have regular eye tests and report changes to an optometrist or doctor promptly.

    To avoid the need to keep switching between different corrective glasses, a new approach – monovision – corrects just one eye for close work, enabling the other to be used for distant vision, for example, when driving. Monovision may be achieved with a contact lens or with laser surgery in just one eye. Having the two eyes focusing at different distances is disorienting at first, but within a short time your brain learns which eye to favour in which situation.

    Getting checked
    Having regular eye tests – as often as your optician recommends – is essential to keep your prescription up to date and to detect any other eye conditions as early as possible. Many eye diseases become more common in the over-60s. All can be readily detected during a routine eye examination, so it’s important to have your eyes checked at least every two years, and more often if your optician recommends this or if you have conditions that can lead to eye problems, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

    DON’T MISS AN EYE TEST The health of your eyes can tell your optician a lot about the health of the rest of your body. Take high blood pressure, for instance. As it causes few symptoms, the problem may be detected for the first time by a routine eye test. Your optician can also spot signs of other diseases in your eyes – including thyroid disorder, high cholesterol, liver disease and even brain tumours. In one study, eye tests detected signs of chronic disease before any other medical examinations – 65 per cent of the time for high cholesterol, 20 per cent for diabetes and 30 per cent for hypertension.

    What’s NEW
    EYE SURGERY One possible alternative to reading glasses in the near future is a lens implant, in which the natural lens is replaced with a synthetic one that gives the correct focus. This simple operation is similar to cataract surgery, but side effects such as blurring and glare may occur. A very recent development is the corneal inlay: a tiny and virtually invisible device inserted on the cornea, the clear surface at the front of the eye. The surgery may have fewer risks since only the surface of the eye is affected. An inlay works much like a contact lens, by altering the way light rays enter the eye, but it is permanently implanted. Early trials have yielded promising results.