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Q&A about adult and children's eye health with optician Andy Hepworth - ANSWERS BACK

(65 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 10-Jul-13 13:39:08

We're inviting you to send in questions this week to optician Andy Hepworth, a dispensing optician and ambassador for the JUL-EYE campaign that is running throughout the UK this month. Post your questions about eye health for both adults and children before midday on Tuesday 16th July and we'll post up Andy's answers on July 22nd.

JUL-EYE, takes place throughout July and is backed by the Association of Optometrists and has specialist independent opticians all over the UK during July offering help and tips to keep our eyes tip-top. Its new website has a quiz to calculate if you are eyes-wise, a visionary role model or living in the dark ages, based on your individual Eye-Q score. You can also locate your nearest optician who will be able to provide advice on how to keep your family's eyes healthy for the long-run.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:05:20


My 6yo daughter has an accommodative squint and a +25 prescription. I had a squint as a child but was corrected by surgery.

I was told by optician at hospital when she was 4 that she would only need the glasses until she was around 9, as they would 'retrain the brain' as it were. However another optician several months later was perplexed at the notion of 'growing out of the glasses' and said she would be wearing them for life.

What's your opinion? DD has become very dependant on them- never had to be encouraged to wear them- ever!

Her squint is worse than ever, sadly.

It is really good that you found out your daughter had a squint at a young age. The vision is much more likely to develop normally when these conditions are discovered early, which is why we recommend an eye examination before a child starts school. It is really difficult to say how your daughter’s eyes will develop and what I would suggest is that you find a local optician and make sure you go for check ups as often as advised.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:08:08


I am short-sighted, diagnosed at 21.
I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 7 weeks ago. I am 36, with a healthy lifestyle therefore my doctor thinks it's probably down to genetics rather than diet......I am taking Metformin 500g, which will be upped at my appointment tomorrow as my sugar levels are not yet under control. I had my first Retinopathy Screening yesterday, my question is:
When should the dilating drops have worn off?
I had them put in at 10am, my eyes were still half dilated 17 hours later. Initially I could not see anything close up, and could hardly see at all in the sunlight. This improved through the day, but took 8 hours before I could see enough to read. When I woke up this morning they were no longer dilated but very sensitive to sunlight. Today, they still do not feel quite 'right'.
Is this normal? Is this okay? Will this happen every time? The leaflet I was given said 4-6 hours....
Also, my sight has been getting steadily worse over the last 5-6 years. Could this be down to the diabetes? (I am not sure how long I have had it) and will my sight improve once my diabetes is stable?
Thankyou smile

Sorry to hear about your diagnosis of diabetes. It sounds like you are getting exactly the right screening, as all diabetics should have a dilated examination to look at the retina at the back of the eyes. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause changes in the prescription, which may be why your sight feels like it’s getting worse. Diabetics are entitled to an examination at the optometrist paid for by the NHS. Have a look at to find your local practice. Be sure to tell the optometrist about your diabetes and the changes in your vision. Some people’s eyes do take longer than others to recover from the dilating drops. It should slowly return to normal, if you get any intense pain or discomfort in the eyes after the drops go and speak to the screening centre again immediately.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:09:31


DD (14mo) has just been diagnosed with severe myopia (minus 15 in one eye, minus 16 in the other). Her glasses have been ordered and are coming this week. Is there any chance this is going to get better as she gets older? (I'm pretty short-sighted too (minus 8.5), and mine has got worse since I was little.)

Unfortunately it is unlikely that the myopia will improve and it is difficult to offer a detailed response unless we were to see your daughter. More positively spectacle lenses will over coming years becoming thinner and more suitable for myopic people & of course there are advances in contact lenses which could offer a correction solution.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:11:03


My 4 year-old DD has recently started wearing glasses for long sight and astigmatism (which she's taken to well, fortunately). I felt a bit guilty that I hadn't noticed but was told that children can accommodate really well, but this strains the eyes and can cause a squint. I wasn't really looking for signs of long sight in her as I have (had, thanks laser surgery) short sight and astigmatism, as does hubby to a minor extent.

A few questions! Is it possible that she will grow out of the long sight? Why is it so common (according to our optician) in children? Is it possible that DD will eventually have short sight too? Am I correct in thinking that it's unlikely that she'll grow out of the astigmatism?

Well done on having your daughter’s eyes examined at four years old. It is surprising the number of children who have never had an examination. It sounds like you have had exactly the right advice. Some children who have long-sightedness may develop a squint from focusing the eyes but this usually isn't the case. A low degree of long-sight (hyperopia) is normal in children and usually will change as the child ages. It is difficult to comment on specific cases, the best thing to do is to keep taking your daughter for eye examinations as recommended as they will be able to tell you how the eyes are changing.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:12:10


When should a child have a first sight test when both parents have worn glasses since around 8 or 9?

It’s very important for all children to have a full eye exam at least before they start school, as it checks eye health as well as vision. It becomes more important if parents have an underlying health conditions; with that written simply wearing glasses doesn’t indicate a serious underlying condition its best to book a full eye exam (which is covered free of charge by the NHS for all under 16 year olds). If you go to can uncover a local independent practice.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:13:34


My son is slightly colour blind, and has problems distinguishing murky shades of green/orange and sometimes other colours in that range like brown and red. Can any optician test him to gauge the problem, or,does he need to see a specialist? And if so, would that be thought our GP?

If you go to you will be able to find your local optician. Mention your concerns and they will be able to do a simple test for colour vision.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:14:48


My 9yo has been saying he can see purple blobs for a couple of years now. I have mentioned it to the optician twice (different ones) and they have both dismissed it as not significant. Is this correct? His eye tests have all come back as good vision with no correction required, healthy eyes etc.

As background, DH is short sighted, I am long sighted and other DS has different eye problems (but not genetic) so am sometimes a bit paranoid!


You have done exactly the right thing in getting your child’s eyes examined. It is good news that neither optician was able to find anything significant. Many people will see small floaters or coloured ‘blobs’ in the vision these are usually not serious and can be ignored. If they change significantly then schedule another examination at your optometrist.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:15:33


My daughter has just been diagnosed short sighted ( left eye is somewhat weaker than right) and told her main use for her glasses will be reading the white board at school. The person who tested her also said use for TV and for prolonged reading books etc. However, when we went to pick the glasses up another optician (?) said she would only need them for the distance reading so I ended up a bit confused. Can you help please?

Without seeing your daughter it is difficult to offer advice. That being said I would follow the advice of the optician who examined your daughter. At your daughter’s next examination the optician will want to find out more about when your daughter wears the glasses and how they are helping.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:16:18


I have had high ocular pressure for around 15 years with no problems, but it is usually between 21-25. I am 50 years old. I have regular appointments at the local opthamology clinic and at present am not on any medication. I am told it is very unusual to go this long without any damage to my eyesight. Is it inevitable that i will get glaucoma ?

It is great news that your eyes are being checked regularly by the local ophthalmology clinic, and they say there is no damage. The ‘normal’ eye pressure varies from individual to individual some people can have a low pressure with damage to the eyesight and others a higher pressure with no damage. This is one of the reasons we recommend regular eye examinations for all people over the age of 40. The ophthalmology clinic will be assessing you for a number of factors that would make you at risk of developing glaucoma (high pressure).

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:17:29


My 3 year old has +5.5 prescription in both eyes. I am myopic so I have no frame of reference for what he can see. He appears to see the laptop or ipad screen fine or at least manages.

The ophthalmologist said I should be encouraging him to wear his glasses. I am not really sure why - do you agree? Can you tell me why? Thanks!

Your ophthalmologist is correct, as young children have the ability to focus a huge amount which if you like temporarily corrects the +5.50 prescription. The significance of this is two fold; 1: it can be tiring to focus that much all the time 2: there maybe a slight difference between the two lenses (in the glasses) which allow your sons eyes to work together… this is really important at a young age as it will help the eyes develop as a pair.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:19:30


I have macular degeneration- probably not age related ( have had since mid 30's), possibly related to being v shortsighted- is there anything I can do about it?

Sorry to hear about your high short sightedness (myopia) and macular degeneration. The higher your degree of myopia the more likely you are to get complications at the back of the eye. The most important thing you can do is make sure you attend for regular eye examinations so they can check the health of your eyes. If you notice any sudden changes in the vision, such as lines looking distorted then go straight back to your specialist for an urgent appointment. Whilst it will not help you, there is research being undertaken on slowing down the progression of myopia.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:21:12


I have a squint in my left eye, always worse when tired (which is often at the moment!!!) and glasses seem to make it worse. Is it hereditary? My dad also has one, what are the chances that my 16week old son will also develop one? What can be done these days to correct it? I had an op and wore patches when I was a kid, but presumably the medical treatments have moved on since then?

Being a busy person have you managed to have your eyes rechecked recently? If not it may be worth getting them looked at and mentioning that the glasses seem to make the squint worse. There certainly does appear to be a positive correlation between squint and family history. The best thing would be to keep a close check on your son's eyes to see if you notice any signs of a squint and if you do arrange an eye examination. Some optometrists are happy to check babies eyes that are only a few months old. There are numerous treatment options available depending on the type and severity of any squint, which can include exercises, patching, glasses and occasionally surgery. Squints are always better if found and treated early. To find your local optometrist have a look at can uncover a local independent practice.

Areyoumadorisitme Wed 24-Jul-13 20:22:07

Thanks for your answer, it is reassuring to know it's not unusual.

Twunk Thu 25-Jul-13 11:08:37

Thank you Andy. I will encourage him to wear them more. Thanks for explaining it.

bruffin Thu 25-Jul-13 16:05:32

Thanks for the reassurance grin

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