If Getting Glasses Was a Computer Game, This Blog Post Would Be Your Walk-through Guide to Specsavers

So you've never needed glasses. You've reached your thirties and suddenly reading the on screen TV guide is becoming a bit tricky. They must be making the writing smaller, right? You notice you're squinting to read signs, and in turn some unwanted lines are appearing from nowhere around your eyes and on your nose. Could it be you need glasses? 

You tend to think everyone knows what an eye test involves, but maybe you don't if you've never needed one. This is a dummy's guide for you. How a visit to Specsavers in 2013/2014 goes. Which tests will your peepers be put through? Is there any uncomfortable or painful parts to the eyesight measurement? What about choosing frames? What are the options involved there? 

I visited my regular Specsavers Store in the Bloomfield Centre, Bangor, Northern Ireland, where Melissa from Freshwater PR talked me through and took photos for me, Emma helped me choose frames and Stuart the store's director and optometrist provided the actual test. 

So where do we start?

 Gerard putting my eyes through their paces

Gerard putting my eyes through their paces

Your first stop is a darkened room with two machines. The first you rest your chin on, and put your head against a bar. You look into the machine and it gives a basic reading of whether you are short sighted or long sighted. Next the same machine tests the pressure in your eyeball. This is to check for any potential illness or disease related to sight, rather than dealing with eyesight strength.

This part is the only bit I'm not keen on. The machine puffs a tiny bit of air at your eye to record the pressure, and the 'pop' of the air coming toward me always makes me jump away from the machine! It's in no way painful, nor uncomfortable, but it's a natural reaction to move away from the air.

In the same room, the optician's assistant uses a different machine to take photos of the back of your eye. Again you just put your face against a machine, there's a bright light, and that's it done.

Next comes the official optician part of your eye test, in their room. That's where you read lines of letters through some funky looking robo-specs, like I'm doing in the photo above. Stuart will ask a series of questions and do visual tests to pin down what your prescription strength of lenses will need to be. All in all this takes around 10 - 15 minutes, and again there's no uncomfortable tests, or pain involved.

 This part is actually like a computer game. I haven't got any cheat codes for the answers though ;-)

This part is actually like a computer game. I haven't got any cheat codes for the answers though ;-)

The last test is in another darkened room. You repeat the test for each eye, and wear a patch over the eye you aren't testing. The machine gives you a red light to focus on. Whenever you see a green light in your peripheral vision, you press a button. This tests you don't have any blind spots. It only takes five minutes. This tests isn't necessary every two years when you go for an eye exam, it's just done every so often.

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Now it's the fun part, picking your frames. There's a really great buy one get one free on in Specsavers, and you can mix and match between normal glasses and prescription sunglasses, so that's what I did! 

There is a wide price range of glasses to suit all budgets, and Specsavers also cater for NHS patients with free eye tests and free glasses for those on certain benefits or tax credits.

Emma helped me choose frames that were right for me. Not only in style, but frames that fitted my nose properly so they would be comfortable. 

Back at the desk with my Replay designer specs, and Red or Dead prescription sunglasses frames picked, Emma used one more machine to check my pupil alignment.

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Finally a measurement is taken so the glasses can be fine tuned to perfectly fit on your ears and nose without slipping or poking. 

Your glasses are then fitted with your lenses, and you can pick up the finished pairs an hour later.

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I really love my new glasses, they are totally 'me'. Specsavers are also giving out golden tickets with an offer to buy another pair of glasses from their £69 and up ranges for half price. It can be used any time over the next six months, so I'll be popping back in for a second pair after Christmas.