Visiting an eye doctor can already be confusing for many people. With all the preparations that a visit to an eye vision center entails, there may be different kinds of doctors that care for different conditions. Although people can usually tell the difference between doctors such as pediatricians or cosmetic surgeons they find it hard to believe that an optometrist is different from an ophthalmologist. In fact, they might even believe them to be the very same word.
One of the more common eye doctors that you will find at an eye vision clinic are ophthalmologists. They are basically physicians who provide complete eye care such as a complete eye exam, prescription of eye glasses or contacts, the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. An ophthalmologist may even perform complex surgeries. An ophthalmologist is a qualified doctor that has earned a graduate degree from a medical school and has completed a four year residency.
An optometrist is similar to an ophthalmologist but doesn’t perform the physician duties that the job entails. They deal with more intricate surgeries and eye diseases. An optometrist examines diagnoses, manages and treats eye diseases, injuries and disorders. An optometrist is required to obtain a degree in optometry and additional clinical training before they can start working independently at an eye vision clinic. Optometrists are qualified to diagnose complex diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, conjunctivitis and diabetic retinopathy. In case of these complex diseases, a patient may receive treatments from both kinds of doctors.
This is similar to specialization in different medical fields. When an ophthalmologist or optometrist has extra training in the treatment and diagnosis of low vision they become low-vision specialists. Low vision refers to the gradual degeneration of the eye where the patient loses sight with no substantial reason. Low vision cannot be corrected with surgical treatments or prescription eye wear. It’s the loss of light sensitivity, color and depth perception, contrast and depth perception. Although a low-vision specialist cannot cure his patients he can help them optimize the use of their remaining eyesight. Low vision treatment is not however an alternative to laser eye surgery or medication.
Other than the above mentioned eye specialists, other doctors that you may find at an eye vision clinic include orthopists. These are doctors that usually deal with eye disorders pertaining to alignment and eye movement. They treat disorders such as crossed eyes, lazy eyes or double vision. Orthopists usually work in collaboration with ophthalmologists. They provide the ophthalmologist with information on their patient regarding the best methods to treat the misalignment of their eyes. These may include eye exercises, patches, eye drops or special eyeglasses.
Opticians deal with the technical side of eye care. They are in charge of the measurement of the eyes and making prescriptions in case of weak eyesight. They can also be provided with prescriptions given by ophthalmologists and optometrists. They then follow the details on the prescriptions to fit the patient with custom eyeglasses. They may also assist in the treatment of complex eye disorders by making corrective lenses, low-vision aids, ocular prostheses and artificial eyes. Opticians are required to complete a training program or an apprenticeship before they can handle these tasks.
When visiting an eye vision center make sure to visit the ophthalmologist in case of an eye exam. Optometrists and Low vision specialists usually arrive much later when and if the patient is suffering form a more complex disease. It is however imperative that individuals visit eye specialists at least once in a year.