Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I come to Rawlings?

With vision most commonly quoted as the most important of your senses, why would you want to accept second best? At Rawlings we pride ourselves on a level of service that is second to none, from your eye examination with the Optometrist you choose, to a detailed glasses consultation with qualified Dispensing Opticians. Our Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians all regularly participate in continued education and training, and we ensure that every patient gets all the time they need for a thorough examination and all the help they need to get the perfect glasses.

One of the things that sets us apart from many opticians is our long standing staff, meaning you can get continuity of care being regularly seen by the same Optometrist or Dispensing Optician building up rapport and real understanding of your visual and glasses needs.

Rawlings Opticians are 'independent' opticians giving all our staff freedom of choice of frames and lenses allowing them to find the perfect pair for you. This ethos of independence has stood us in good stead for over 120 years in business and there are still several members of the Rawling family working in the company which, after 4 generations, is something we are truly proud of.

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Why should I buy my glasses at Rawlings?

We have a huge choice of frames with up to 1000 different styles in some branches and our independent status means we have frames and lenses available from many different manufacturers all over the world. Our dispensing team are trained to help you make the right choice and will spend all the time you need to help you get the look you want and with the vision you need. Special smart mirrors with cameras will let you see exactly what you look like in the selection of frames you choose before you make the final decision. These even allow those with strong prescriptions to see their frames clearly before a decision is made. All our glasses have a satisfaction guarantee, and are covered by a two year guarantee against manufacturing defects.

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Am I entitled to a free eye examination through the NHS?

You are entitled to an eye examination paid for by the NHS if:

  • you are under 16 years of age
  • you are under 19 years of age and in full time education
  • you or your partner are getting income support
  • you or your partner are getting family credit
  • you are over 60 years of age
  • you suffer from glaucoma
  • you are diabetic
  • you are over 40 years of age and have a family history of glaucoma
  • you require certain types of complex (very strong) lenses
  • you are registered as blind or partially sighted (sight impaired or severely sight impaired)
  • you have an NHS exemption form (HC1 or HC2)

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How often can I have my sight tested?

If you are a private patient; as often as you like. If you are an NHS patient; as often as your Optometrist recommends. If you are an NHS patient and you want to have your sight tested again before your next NHS appointment is due (for example if you lost your glasses and wanted another test before replacing them) you would have to pay a private examination fee.

If you feel you are having problems with your eyes, we can advise you on whether you are entitled to an early NHS sight test or whether you will have to pay. In some cases it may be more appropriate for you to see your GP or an ophthalmologist rather than have an NHS sight test. The NHS sight test is for the provision of spectacles, not for emergency eye problems. If you think that your sight has changed before your next test is due, you can ask your Optometrist for an earlier test.

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Will the NHS help pay for my glasses?

If you fall into any of the first four categories above or you require "complex" lenses you will get help towards the cost of glasses. The amount will vary dependent on your prescription and NHS entitlement (as designated by NHS rules).

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If I am on a low income or a student but do not qualify in the above groups can I get help?

You can apply for help towards the cost of eyecare by submitting a form HC1 “Claim for help with health costs” to the NHS Business Authority. These forms are available at most Opticians, Dentists, Post Offices and Benefit offices.

Rawlings are pleased to offer a 15% discount to students on production of a valid NUS card.

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Do I need to see my GP before I can have an eye examination?

No. All you need to do is make an appointment. You can ring, email us, use our online booking page, or just call in.

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Why do my spectacle lenses have to be so thick and heavy?

These days, they don't! New technology used in modern lens materials mean that lenses can be made much thinner and lighter nowadays, often over 40% thinner and lighter than standard lenses. Frames can also be lightweight, yet strong at the same time, using materials such as titanium and stainless steel for example. Our expert dispensing opticians can advise you on frame shapes to suit your prescription, as sometimes just a slight change to the style chosen can make a huge difference.

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How often should I have my eyes examined?

Most people need an eye examination every two years. Certain groups of people may require more frequent appointments than this and the Optometrist will advise them accordingly.

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Can I change to a different contact lens solution without checking with the optician?

Your Optometrist or Contact Lens Optician will have recommended a solution for you based on many different factors. Your lenses and solutions should be seen as working as a team, and changing the solution can cause discomfort, allergy or other problems. Supermarkets often vary the contents of the bottle without changing the packaging so unless you note the ingredients down you can't tell what you are buying.

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I have astigmatism can I wear contact lenses?

Nearly all people with astigmatism (irregular or rugby ball shaped eyes) can now be fitted with contact lenses. Soft and rigid gas permeable lenses can be used, and depending on the prescription even daily disposable soft lenses are available.

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Will my eyes get worse by wearing my glasses too much?

No. A common misconception is that when you start wearing reading glasses they make your eyes deteriorate – unfortunately once your reading vision begins to deteriorate (usually during your 40's or 50's) it will continue to deteriorate due to natural changes in the eye, regardless of whether or how much you wear your glasses. A bit like getting grey hair or wrinkles – it is an aging process caused by the lens inside your eye growing larger and becoming less flexible. When you are given a prescription for glasses your Optometrist will advise you when to wear them. It is usually not possible to wear glasses too much – but you should not use glasses prescribed for reading for distance or vice versa unless the optician has told you to.

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Will my vision keep getting worse?

As described above the aging process cannot be halted. Sometimes the prescription will not change for many years, at other times they will seem to change quite quickly. In particular children's eyes can change very rapidly especially if they are shortsighted (myopic).

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When should a child have his/her first eye exam?

Always before they start school and ideally even younger. Good vision is vital for early years education and often even though your child may appear to be seeing well, a problem with one eye only or a muscle problem can cause problems with learning but will not be noticeable at other times.

Small babies with suspected vision problems will usually be referred to the hospital but toddlers can have their eyes tested at the opticians.

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How can you test my child's eyes if he/she is not able to read letters or speak yet?

The Optometrist can use symbols and matching games instead of identifying letters. Letter matching can be practised at home beforehand, and even children under 4 regularly surprise their parents in the consulting room by accurately showing us which letter is 'the same'. Much of the testing that is done by the Optometrist requires little input from the child. The child's eye exam is focused on assessment of the strength of the eyes, eye muscle status, and eye health to ensure proper vision development. Critical information can be obtained about your child's eyes without them needing to say a word!

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What are symptoms that may indicate my child is having a vision problem?

They include rubbing eyes, squinting, turning or tilting head, losing their place or using a finger to follow along when reading, moving head or mouthing words while reading, headaches, red eyes, wandering eyes, complaints of blurred vision. However many disorders have no symptoms, which is why we recommend that all children should have a thorough eye examination BEFORE they start school.

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How often should disposable contact lenses be replaced?

Replacement time varies depending on a huge variety of factors including; eye health, the chemistry of your tears, your lifestyle and the durability of the lens. Disposable lens replacement options can vary from daily, weekly, two-weekly, monthly, and even quarterly. Your Optometrist or Contact Lens Optician will assess your eye health and vision status with your contact lenses to ensure you have the perfect replacement schedule for your usage.

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What causes cataracts?

Cataracts are most commonly an age-related condition, but many factors can contribute to earlier onset. Ultraviolet Light exposure has a cumulative effect, as does smoking and poor diet. If you have been told that you have the beginnings of cataract, studies have shown that taking a simple vitamin supplement containing vitamin A , C and E can slow down progression of cataract, even with a good diet.

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Does laser eye surgery correct all vision problems?

Laser eye surgery can be undertaken to correct many cases of myopia (short sight) and astigmatism safely and predictably. Laser correction of hyperopia (long sight) is also possible. Presbyopia, which causes the need to wear reading glasses or bifocals, cannot currently be corrected by laser surgery though recent small experimental studies suggest that this may be possible over the next few years, either by laser or by implants into the cornea.. As a result, most people over 45 will require reading glasses following surgery. Amblyopia (lazy eye) or other existing conditions that have caused damage to the eye or loss of vision cannot be repaired by laser surgery. Some people (usually if over 50) may be recommended an alternative treatment called 'clear lens exchange' which can give a better result. Your Optometrist will be happy to discuss refractive surgery with you.

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