You awake one morning to the sound of the postman delivering your mail. Rubbing your tired eyes, you get out of bed and see a letter from your optician reminding you that you are due an eye examination.

Memories of comedy sketches and TV show portrayals of eye tests come to the front of your mind and you hold off making that very important appointment. Whilst you may expect a tricky time of deciding if lens one is clearer than lens two, our team here at Haine & Smith Opticians aim to make the whole process as straightforward and as pain-free as possible.

Booking an Appointment

Expectation: Having to venture out in the cold and wait in a long queue at a reception desk to speak to someone about booking an appointment. Then being told it’s a month wait for an appointment.

Reality: Whilst you can still pop into any one of our twenty practices across Wiltshire, Swindon and Gloucestershire, there are more convenient ways to book an eye test with Haine and Smith Opticians. If the weather is miserable outside, pick up the phone and we can book an appointment for you over the phone. We also understand many don’t like to call and prefer to book things online. You can easily request an appointment online at a branch of your choosing, so an appointment is only a few clicks away!

As for the wait for an appointment, we often have some availability across our network of practices – so our appointment waiting lists are minimal!

Checking Your Vision

Expectation: Being told to cover your eye with your hand and reading off all the letters on a chart until they become too small to read off. Then being told you need glasses.

Reality: Whilst it may be true that you’ll be asked to read off letters from a chart, often we only want to see what the smallest line of letters are (so you don’t even need to read off the big ones if you start at the bottom!) With eyes and vision being complicated, it is not often necessary that you’ll need glasses if you can’t see the bottom line, although if glasses help, we will always offer them to you if they appear to help.

Is it Lens One or Two?

Expectation: You’ll be sat in a dark room whilst being relentlessly asked if some weird circular shapes are clearer with the first lens that they show you, or the second. You wonder if you’ll be out in time for Christmas 2030 and if the answers you are giving will result in glasses so strong that they will look like they’ve been made from discarded milk bottles.

Reality: Optometrists work out your prescription in many ways. We try and get an objective result (one where we work it out before asking for your help fine-tuning) and then we use subjective tests (such as the “lens one and lens two” classic) so you can help us fine tune the final prescription1. With several tests being used, it is very difficult to provide the wrong prescription. With most of our appointments being completed within 30 minutes, your eye test will be completed before you know it.

The Air Puff Machine

Expectation: Every instrument in the building has been designed to puff air into your eye (often calibrated to “hurricane force”).

Reality: Believe it or not, there is only one “air-puff” machine (a “tonometer”, for those who are interested). This machine measures your eye pressure and helps the optometrist determine the health of your eyes. Older models of tonometer used to be louder and increase anxiety in patients2, however our newer models are much better tolerated by patients.

You Only Test Vision

Expectation: Optometrists only want to change your prescription to sell glasses.

Reality: Whilst optometrists do work out your glasses prescription and can advise you if you need to update your glasses, they also have extensive training in eye health3. They can help you get to the bottom of why your eyes are always red, or why there are more floaters in your eyes than normal. They can also detect if your blood pressure is high3, if you may be at risk of glaucoma or if cataracts are forming. In some cases, optometrists have discovered brain tumours4 and other major health conditions that would not necessarily have had symptoms until it was too late. Therefore, we recommend you book an eye examination with us at least once every two years.

Glasses and Eye Tests Are Expensive

Expectation: You’ll need to re-mortgage your home and sell your car to be able to afford an eye examination and new glasses.

Reality: Our private eye examinations are competitively priced and represent excellent value for money for the services you receive. However, the NHS covers the cost of the appointment if you meet their criteria5 - You can find our guide by clicking here.

So, the cost of the appointment shouldn't put you from booking one!

Whilst glasses have a reputation of being pricey, Haine & Smith Opticians provide a wide range of options that cover most budgets. The NHS also issues vouchers to eligible groups to help cover the cost of the glasses5. Therefore, if the eye test does reveal you need glasses, don’t be alarmed that a huge bill is heading your way.

Hopefully this blog post has helped give you a more realistic idea of what an eye test involves. So, why not book a sight test with us today!


1. Wilkinson ME (2016). Sharpen your subjective refraction technique. Review of Optometry. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on: January 15th 2020].

2. Wolffe M, and Burrows C (2002). From blue to blink, a brief history of glaucoma diagnosis and testing. Glaucoma Forum.

3. College of Optometrists (2019). The role of your optometrist. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on: January 15th 2020].

4. Buckland D (2013). Eyes are windows to good health. Raconteur. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on: 15th January 2020].

5. NHS (2017). Free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers. NHS Website [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on: 15th January 2020].

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Haine & Smith Enquiries
7-8 Salisbury Road Business Park
Salisbury Road

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