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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.

RunDougalRunQuiteFast Mon 15-Jul-13 21:46:44

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?

Tigerbomb Mon 15-Jul-13 21:51:30

Both my DC have been diagnosed with Keratoconus - they both have to use contact lenses at the moment with varying degrees of improvement. My DS condition is escalating. My understanding is that this is not curable and they are unlikely to be able to have cornea transplants in the UK on the NHS (according to their specialist). Is this true? The only info I can find is American based

flybynight Mon 15-Jul-13 23:01:23

If a child is already quite myopic before puberty (-5, for the sake of argument ), what can we expect when growth starts in earnest?

I'm -7 with astigmatism and have had retinal holes. I worry!

Twunk Mon 15-Jul-13 23:04:39

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!

sicily1921 Tue 16-Jul-13 08:18:57

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?

Areyoumadorisitme Tue 16-Jul-13 09:58:43

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!


Robotindisguise Tue 16-Jul-13 11:16:30

My mother insists her optician told her it's best not to increase your prescription / wear glasses at all if you can help it because your brain gets lazy / relies on the glasses and your sight gets worse. This is soon to be an issue for me as my daughter sees an optometrist to check she's not going to develop my (corrected) squint. Last time he saw her he said she was very very slightly short sighted and we're back again earlier than normal to see how things are before she starts school. Obviously I'd rather she didn't have to wear glasses if possible - but I don't want to compromise her ocular health either!

nicknamegame Tue 16-Jul-13 11:33:55

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.

nicknamegame Tue 16-Jul-13 11:38:00

Sorry- that should say '+0.25!


Kleptronic Tue 16-Jul-13 11:47:50

My son (9) has a black 'floater' in his right eye which he can always see and which troubles him greatly. The optician's seen it and says it's normal, but can anything be done about it? He's constantly aware of it and I think it affects his attention span.

bruffin Tue 16-Jul-13 11:54:40

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 ?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 16-Jul-13 17:31:59

The Q&A has now closed. We're going to select 20 questions to send over to the JUL-EYE campaign team and will post up their answers on 22nd July.

Jaydeelee Wed 24-Jul-13 08:17:12

Where are the answers posted please?

LaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Jul-13 15:40:28

Hi everyone,

We now have the answers back from Andy, and I will be posting them up shortly.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 15:52:11

Stock disclaimer response: As with all questions we strongly recommend a follow up step should be to locate a local optometric practice – offers a postcode search.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 15:54:56


My mum and I are both very short sighted. Is there anything I could do for my son to help him have the best eyesight possible? He's only 18 months old. My optician has checked his eyes are 'healthy' already.

It’s great that you have already had his eyes examined. The best course of action is to certainly keep on top of the eye check ups at your local practice. An important part of those eye exams is to ensure both eyes work together as well as checking for short-sightedness so make an appointment at least every year or as often as the optometrist suggests. There is a lot of research going on presently around short-sightedness (myopia) it’s early days but there is some evidence spending time playing outdoors helps.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 15:56:45


I'm in my 40s & I've never visited an Optician before. What eye tests should be included in a standard check-up - eg do all Opticians check intra-ocular pressures & look at your retinas or do some just check visual acuity.

All full eye exams will cover all the aspects you have highlighted, as I often say the key thing an eye exam will cover is not just vision but the health of the front and back of your eyes along with a few other conditions. The optometrist (ophthalmic optician) will also do any other tests they consider necessary. A really good first step would be locate your nearest independent practice on

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 16:04:51


My 18mo DC has glasses to correct her squint as she is more long sighted in one eye.

Do you have any tips for getting her to wear them. So far I am managing a couple of 3 minute sessions per day before she pulls them off and wont let them near her. I dont want to push it too much and put her off!

It can be frustrating trying to get a young child to wear glasses. The good news is that by discovering the squint at such an early age and the need for glasses now, your daughter is much more likely to grow up with good vision. To try and make them keep them on, the first thing is to ask the optician to make sure they fit properly. No one wants to wear uncomfortable glasses, and we certainly wouldn't want them to slip so she has to look over the top. It can then be worth while trying to find a fun activity to do together whilst wearing the glasses. Maybe watching a video or reading increasing the wearing time gradually.

Click here for some suggestions on how to encourage your child to wear glasses.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 16:06:28


My 22 mth daughter keeps crossing her eyes. And occasionally one moves further in when she does this. Generally her eyes move in same direction and the crossing seems to be voluntary (she does it when tired of eating mostly to try and get a reaction from me). Should I be concerned about this behaviour? I myself am extremely short sighted and have been since very young.

Great question, you are right to ask about your daughter’s eyes if they seem to cross. There is no harm in voluntary crossing the eyes. The best thing to do is find your local practice on and have her eyes checked. The optometrist will check not just that she can see clearly, and is not long or short-sighted, but also how the eyes work together.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 16:56:21


I have no current concerns for either child but I knew from the age of 9 that I needed glasses but never told anyone. People only found out through routine school checks when I was 13... What would be the signs that a child needs glasses?

It is often difficult for a parent to notice the signs of poor eyesight in their children, with so many other things on a parent’s plate. Unquestionably the best step is to book a full eye examination at a local optician where not only vision, but eye health will be considered. This can highlight any possible vision requirements which will help immensely with a child's education along with eye health, many of which can be treated.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 16:57:21


How long should I be free of contact lenses in a day?

My optician told me to reduce wear.

I have astigmatism but do not wear toric lenses.
Monthly disposables -3.50 and - 3

Can you tell me benefits of a toric lens as I have worn lenses for 20 years and it has only just been mentioned.

My eyes/brain don't react we'll to change.


There is no correct answer for how many hours you should be free of contact lenses in a day. The best person to ask is your optician. They will have had a good look at the health of your eyes and be able to advise. Nowadays there are contact lens materials that are extremely permeable to oxygen (let your eyes breath), and less likely to dry out and many people can wear them all day comfortably. You require a toric lens if your eyes have astigmatism (think rugby ball shaped rather than football shaped). The benefits of these will be clearer and more comfortable vision. Ask your optician if you can try some.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 16:59:24


I suffer from a lot of headaches. Worse just now because my computer use at work has increased. I went to the doctor and she said get an eye test, I did and got a new prescription for short sight (much worse in 1 eye). The optician recommended I wear the glasses all the time now. I tried really hard to do this but just have to take them off if I have a headache, especially in front of a computer.

Do I go back to the gp and say I can't bear to wear the glasses because the headaches are so bad? Or do I go back to the optician?

My first thought is very much to revisit the previous optician and discuss the problems you are having with them. The whole area of computer vision is interesting, especially if you are a heavy user. Many opticians have access to spectacle lenses that have been specifically designed for computer use to ease eyestrain from heavy computer use. As I’m sure you will; mention to the optician your current lifestyle requirements (i.e. significant computer use) and they will be able to help select suitable frame and lenses which may well reduce your headaches. If the headaches persist it would be worthwhile visiting your GP again and mentioning that your eyes have been examined.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:00:37


My 7yo has severe ASD and is non verbal. We had never noticed anything obvious with his eyesight, but, since DH and I both wear glasses (DH is short sighted and started wearing glasses in puberty, I have an astigmatim that wasn't noticed until I was in my 20s) we managed to get a referral to an orthoptist to have his sight tested. My 9yo started to have trouble with his vision at 7 and is becoming progressively more short sighted as he grows and we've told he'll end up with a higher prescription than DH, which is what prompted us to ask for the referral, despite no obvious problems.

Anyhow, he had his test last week and we were quite shocked. He has an astigmatism as strong as mine and is long sighted - +5.75.

I'm now feeling guilty about having not asked for him to be tested sooner, as having such poor vision can't have helped him at all, when he already has so many challenges. I know that a lot of long sightedness in small children resolves as they grow, but I'm worried that we've left it too late and done lasting damage to his eyesight.

I can understand your concerns but what is really positive is that you have now had your child’s eyes examined and found out that they require glasses. Despite being seven years old having uncorrected long sight and astigmatism does not necessarily mean the eyes will have become ‘lazy’ or vision development damaged. The best thing to do is ask the optometrist at their next eye examination.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:01:57


Both my DC have been diagnosed with Keratoconus - they both have to use contact lenses at the moment with varying degrees of improvement. My DS condition is escalating. My understanding is that this is not curable and they are unlikely to be able to have cornea transplants in the UK on the NHS (according to their specialist). Is this true? The only info I can find is American based

Sorry to hear that both of your children have keratoconus, which is a progressive change in the shape and thinning of the cornea at the front of the eye. There are a number of treatment options, in early stages vision may be adequate with glasses or soft contact lenses. As the distortion progresses then rigid contact lenses are used to mask the distortion. Only if the distortion is very severe would a corneal transplant be necessary. Newer treatments are being investigated including something called corneal cross-linking to try and strengthen the cornea. The treatment options are really best discussed with the specialist.

AndyHepworth Wed 24-Jul-13 17:04:03


My son (9) has a black 'floater' in his right eye which he can always see and which troubles him greatly. The optician's seen it and says it's normal, but can anything be done about it? He's constantly aware of it and I think it affects his attention span.

Floaters are common and usually not serious. If the optician has looked and say’s it normal then what will often happen is that the brain learns to ignore it. If there is any change, if it gets larger or he gets more of them, then go straight back to the optician and have it looked at again. Sometimes the optician will have an even better look inside of the eye by putting drops in that make the pupil of the eye larger.

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