Who is an optometrist?
An optometrist is a health professional who does primary health care for the eye. Optometrists examine the eyes to diagnose any problems in vision and prescribe corrective lenses for them. Optometrists have done a four-year professional program after college to get a Doctor of Optometry degree. They may also get additional clinical training or a specialty fellowship after the optometry degree.
What are the various kinds of eye doctors?
Healthcare professionals who specialize in eye care are mainly divided into three categories:
What functions does an optometrist have?
Optometrists have several roles related to the primary care of the eye. These include:
- Performing eye examination and vision tests.
- Treating conditions such as:
- astigmatism (an eye defect in which there is a distorted curving of the eyeball or lens)
- Prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses.
- Providing low-vision aids and vision therapy.
- Detecting diseases, injuries and disorders of the eyes.
What training and functions does an ophthalmologist have?
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor specialized in the medical and surgical care of the eyes. Ophthalmologists have completed medical school and subsequently do an internship for a year and residency for three years. They may sometimes additionally do a one- to two-year fellowship.
Ophthalmologists offer a spectrum of eye health services which include:
- Vision services, including eye exams.
- Medical eye care for conditions like glaucoma, and chemical burns.
- Surgical eye care for trauma, crossed eyes, cataracts, glaucoma, and other problems.
- Diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions associated with other diseases, including cancers of the eye, diabetes or arthritis.
- Plastic surgery to raise droopy eyelids or smooth out wrinkles.
What functions does an optician have?
Opticians are not eye doctors and they cannot examine the eyes. Qualifications include a one to two-year degree, certificate, or diploma. Their roles include:
- Checking lens prescriptions.
- Filling prescriptions given by an eye doctor.
- Providing, adjusting, and repairing glasses, frames, and contact lenses.
- Taking measurements of the face to fit corrective lenses.
- Helping decide which type of lenses and frames will work best, functionally and aesthetically.
- Ordering and checking products, including contacts and eyeglass lenses.
Should I visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?
If you want to get a routine checkup of your eyes, you can see either an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
If you believe you have an eye problem like cataract or glaucoma, or a health condition like diabetes that may compromise your vision, an ophthalmologist may be best. Ophthalmologists have advanced medical training that qualifies them to evaluate and treat these conditions.
How often should I get my eye examination done?
We all can benefit by eye examination on a routine basis. If you don’t have any diagnosed vision problems and don’t notice any symptoms, follow the general rules below:
- Young adults: Once in your 20s and twice in your 30s.
- Adults: At age 40 with regular follow-ups, depending on your health.
- Adults 65 and above: Every one to two years.
- Children: At birth, six months, three years, and before entering grade school. Schools may also perform routine eye exams.
Apart from routine visits, you need to go to the eye doctor in the following situations:
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