Medical Q&As

Eye strain - assessment?

I need to get my eyes tested as they are becoming strained from years of computer use. Who is the best person to judge whether I need glasses? Is it more reliable to get a referral from my GP or should I visit an optician?

Anybody working with computers should undergo periodic testing of their eyesight in order to ensure that their visual acuity is adequate for the job. This should be an ongoing process of review and can be quite easily performed by an optician. Most GPs would not have the necessary equipment to perform such an assessment unless they had a specific interest in occupational health. You could clarify that point by contacting your GPís secretary. I donít think it is necessary to be referred to an ophthalmologist (an eye specialist) to undergo such assessment because the primary focus here is on visual acuity and not diseases of the eye. I want to emphasise that I am making these remarks in the context of visual acuity checks for people working with computers. Computer users may be looking at a VDU for many hours and this can result in strain injury if they have reduced visual acuity. Such workers may compensate for reduced visual acuity by adapting their posture thereby giving rise to muscle or ligament strain, which in turn causes neck, shoulder or back strain. Leaving aside work and safety issues there is a school of thought that the sale of glasses should be completely deregulated. For example in some countries you can purchase glasses in the same way that you buy a hat. You simply try on a pair from the display stand and if you are happy with the improvement in vision you simply pay for them at the till. In summary, in your particular case a visit to an optician should address your needs.