Should’ve gone to Specsavers

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Sunday Reporter ANDREW QUINN visited Specsavers in Ferryquay Street to find out why having regular ear and eye tests are so important

I can no longer partake in the wonderful art of selective hearing - Specsavers Hearing Aid Audiologist Karen Green has just told me my hearing is in perfect working condition. “Sorry, what was that again Karen?.”

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This week is Deaf-Blind Awareness Week and Specsavers in Ferryquay Street asked a reporter from the good ship Sunday Journal to visit their Ferryquay Street store to find out why undergoing regular ear and eye tests can not only keep people healthy but it can even save their lives.

As soon as I arrive at the busy store I go straight to the reception desk. “Sean will be with you in a few minutes, please take a seat,” says the lady behind the desk.

Sean McCauley is Store Director and one of its most experienced Opticians - he’s been in the job for over 20 years - he introduces me to Karen and quicker than you can say ‘I spy with my little eye’ my hearing is being rigorously tested.

Karen places a set of rather strange looking earphones on my head. The test is quite simple. Karen will play both high and low pitch sounds and each time I hear them I have to press a button.

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The test lasts about 20 minutes and afterwards Karen tells me that my hearing is perfect and no further testing is required.

I am one of the lucky ones.

Karen tells me afterwards that not everyone who takes the test gets positive results. Some customers have found out that their hearing is so badly damaged that the only way they can improve their ability to hear is by using a hearing aid.

Due to technological advances Specsavers are able to offer customers state of-the-art hearing aids, all of which are completely discreet.

Karen tells me that many local musicians and sports men and women avail of regular hearing tests. She says that regular checks help them to keep track of any damage to their hearing and can help to flag up any concerns.

Since my hearing was A-OK it was time to have my eyesight checked.

I wear glasses and I use contact lenses but I wasn’t aware of just how far reaching the results of an eye test could be.

I was then introduced to Specsavers Optical Assistant Amy Smyth who tested my peripheral vision and the ability of each eye to focus on certain objects.

Amy also explained that next on the list was using a machine to blow a small blast of air into each eye.

Optician Sean McCauley explained to me later the thinking behind the blast of air to each eye.

The pressure of the air forces the eye to slightly compress and how it reacts can tell an optician if there are any underlying problems.

Also, eye tests have been known to spot brain tumours and as a result of early detection they have helped to save lives.

Sean says that because of constant research and technological advancement the sky is the limit when it comes to maintaining our eyesight and hearing.

“There is no reason that our quality of life should suffer as we age anymore. We’ve never been in a better position to monitor and treat eye and ear health.

“Eyesight deterioration can manifest itself in a number of ways but is most easily treated with early detection.

“Cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, are all fairly common problems that can occur with age but are all diagnosable through a simple eye examination.”

Specsavers also offer digital retinal photography as part of the standard eye test and at no additional cost for customers aged over 40, or where a GP or optician recommends it.

The advanced procedure uses a camera to take a picture of the back of the eye – the only part of the human body where the microcirculation of the blood can be directly observed. Each photograph is kept as a permanent record and used to detect and manage a variety of conditions.

One in six people nationwide suffer from hearing loss, with age related loss being the most common, and this figure is set to rise. A hearing test not only assesses hearing, but it can also detect tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, as well as ear wax build-ups, known as cerumen blockages.

The test can also spot more serious conditions such as tumours in the inner ear, known as cholesteatoma.

In preparation for my eye examination I had to remove my contact lenses. Sean then proceeded to use the digital retinal camera to take a picture of the back of my eye.

I have to admit it was quite a surreal experience looking at a picture of my own eye on a computer screen but the good news was that my eyesight was pretty much as it was since my last examination.

In the past I have gone two, three and even four years without having my eyes tested but after learning the importance of regular examinations I’ll be getting them tested every year.

Eyesight and hearing are two of the most important senses and if regular checks can help to maintain them we’d be mad not to avail of the service on offer at Specsavers.

To book an eye or ear appointment contact the Specsavers Derry team on 028 71 371 851.