Best Ophthalmologist Doctors
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Difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician
An ophthalmologist — Eye M.D. — is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research on the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.
Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
What Does an Ophthalmologist Do ?
What Conditions Does an Ophthalmologist Treat ?As they are the only medical professionals who can treat all eye disorders, ophthalmologists see a wide variety of eye conditions, including :
- When giving a comprehensive eye exam, an ophthalmologist will assess your vision and, if needed, find your eyeglass/contact lens prescription. They will test how your pupils respond to light, check the alignment of your eyes, and make sure the muscles that move your eyes are working properly. They will look for any early signs of eye problems such as cataracts or glaucoma and examine the back of your eye (retina) and optic nerve.
- Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat injuries, infections, diseases, and disorders of the eye. Treatments can include medication taken orally (by mouth) or topically (in the eye), surgery, cryotherapy (freeze treatment), and chemotherapy (chemical treatment).
Reasons to See an OphthalmologistHow often should you have an eye exam? What are symptoms that indicate you may have an eye problem that needs to be checked by an eye doctor? The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends :
- Amblyopia (lazy eye)
- Dry eye
- Macular degeneration (AMD)
- Refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, etc.)
- Retinal detachment (when the retina lining the back of the eye pulls away from the blood vessels that supply it)
- As children’s eyes are growing and changing rapidly, they should receive a vision screening. If deemed necessary, they can be referred to an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam.
- Adults who have healthy eyes and excellent vision should have four comprehensive eye exams: one in their 20s, two in their 30s, and one at age 40. These checkups may allow the ophthalmologist to catch an eye disease or vision changes early on. By the time you notice symptoms, you may already have some vision loss. Early treatment of eye problems can protect your eyesight.
- People who are at a higher risk of eye disease may need to get an eye exam more often. This can include people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of eye problems. After age 65, your eyes should be checked every one to two years. Regardless of age, people who wear contacts should have a complete eye exam every year.
Calling About Eye ProblemsContact your ophthalmologist right away if you have any of the following :
When should I have my eyes examined ?Regular eye screening is another thing you can do to protect your and your family’s good health. Your eye health can change over time, so it’s a good idea to plan for regular eye examinations.
- An eye injury or infection
- Eye pain
- An increase in floaters and flashes of light
- A change in vision, such as blurriness or seeing double
- Sudden vision loss, even if your sight returns a few seconds later
- All children should have vision screening in a pediatrician's or family practitioner's office around the time when they learn the alphabet, and then every one to two years afterward. Screening should begin sooner if any eye problems are suspected.
- Adults ages 20 to 39 should have complete eye exams every five to 10 years.
- Adults between the ages 40 to 54 should have their eyes checked every two to four years
- Adults between the ages 55 to 64 should have their eyes checked every one to three years.
What should I expect from my appointment with my ophthalmologist ?Most routine eye examinations start with questions about your eyes :
- Are you having any eye or vision problems?
- If so, what are they?
- How long have you had these problems?
- Are there factors that make your eye or vision problems better or worse?
Next, your ophthalmologist will ask about your history of wearing eyeglasses or using contacts. They might also ask about your overall health and your family medical history, including any specific eye problems.
What tests are done to check my eyes ?Your ophthalmologist will perform several tests to learn more about your eye health :
- Visual acuity test : You’ll be asked to read from a chart, called a Snellen chart that contains lines of random letters that become smaller as you move down the chart.
- Color blindness test : You’ll be asked to look at several charts filled with colored dots that form numbers.
- Stereopsis test : This test determines if you have adequate 3-D vision.
- Peripheral vision tests : You might be asked to look into a machine and indicate when you see points of light.
- Eye muscle test : You might be asked to look at a penlight or pencil and move your eyes in different directions.
- Pupil constriction test : Your ophthalmologist might look at your pupils with a penlight to confirm your pupils respond to light by constricting or closing.
- Fundus check : You might be given eye drops to dilate your pupils so your ophthalmologist can check the structures at the back of your eye. This area is called your fundus and includes your retina, nearby blood vessels and your optic nerve.
- Front of eye check : You might be asked to look into a slit lamp, which is a magnifying device so your ophthalmologist can check your eyelids, cornea, conjunctiva, sclera and iris.
- Glaucoma test : This test involves placing your eye up to a lens that emits a puff of air so your ophthalmologist can check for glaucoma.