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Whom to visit, Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

Whom to visit, Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

At least once in our lifetime we face some kind of problems with our eyes and kept us wondering whom to consult. There is always confusion about whom to visit if there is any problem with eyes, should it be optometrist or ophthalmologist.

To decide where should we go with your eye problems we need to understand what optometrist and ophthalmologist do and how do this professionals help differentiate. If I want to tell in brief, optometrist are the ones who examine eyes for vision and health problems, and ophthalmologist are the eye specialist who has knowledge of optometrist but also does eye surgeries. 

Read below and you will know which one will be better for you, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

What an Optometrist does?

Optometrist examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases which occur in eyes. They are primary health care providers. It may not seem but an optometrist plays an important role in patients’ complete health and diagnosing varied diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary problems, etc.

Optometrist can also prescribe medications for any eye problems and can also prescribe different vision therapy. An optometrist can also write prescriptions for prescription lenses.

Any surgical or non-surgical options available for any eye treatment is counselled by optometrist. At some places optometrist will also help in pre and post-operative care after eye surgery. If in US, optometrist is licensed to perform surgery whereas in UK they are not trained nor licensed to perform surgeries on eyes.

What an Ophthalmologist does?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who is a specialist in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologist are different than optometrist in the level of training, knowledge which they have.

Ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat all kinds of eye diseases, perform eye surgeries and prescribe medications for vision problems. Ophthalmologist have medical training and is licensed to perform surgeries in both US and UK.

Ophthalmologists are extensively trained and have under gone at least eight years of medical training after their 4 to 5 years of studies at medical schools.

Whom to Visit? Optometrist or Ophthalmologist

Before going to any of the eye care professional you can do some self-assessment and decide on the professional to visit.

After your assessment, if you believe your eyes and your overall body is healthy then you should give a visit to optometrist.

If you are already suffering from any eye condition like glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts then it is time to see an expert who is highly trained and specialized, ophthalmologist. In cases like this, medical treatment and monitoring from highly skilled ophthalmologist is required. 

Majority of the common eye problems like dry eyes, common eye infections and few chronic eye diseases can be treated by optometrist. If you believe you have some eye condition then consult with an optometrist before going to an ophthalmologist.

From the age of 18 years to 60 years, if you have any eye problems or use prescription lenses then you should visit optometrist every two years for routine checkup. After age of 60 years, you should see an optometrist at least once in a year. Regular eye checkup can help keep eyes healthy for long time and with these routine checkups you may discover any disease at early stage.

Also, if you see these following signs or suffering from any of the mentioned conditions then you should immediately see an ophthalmologist. An eye examination from specialized eye professional can save the light in your eyes. 

  • Bulging of one or both eyes;
  • Dark curtain or veil that blocks your vision;
  • Decreased vision, even if temporary;
  • Diabetes mellitus;
  • Distorted vision;
  • Double vision;
  • Excess tearing;
  • Eyelid abnormalities;
  • Family history of eye disease;
  • Halos (colored circles around lights);
  • High blood pressure;
  • HIV or AIDS;
  • Injury to the eye;
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision;
  • Misaligned eyes;
  • New floaters (black “strings” or specks in the vision) and/or flashes of light;
  • Pain in the eye;
  • Thyroid disease-related eye problems (Graves’ disease);
  • Unusual red eye.

In cases with specific eye problems both optometrist and ophthalmologist work together to provide treatment. Such case where both optometrist and ophthalmologist working together are called as co-management. 

In co-management, optometrist covers your primary care and then the optometrist recommends to an ophthalmologist for complete and thorough diagnosis and treatment. The ophthalmologist will focus on controlling the eye condition via medical treatment, surgery or by both medical treatment and surgery. After controlling the eye condition, the ophthalmologist will send back patient to optometrist. 

To conclude with, you have to decide based on your health conditions and obviously your eye conditions whether you have to see optometrist or ophthalmologist. If you do not know the issue or feel that the issue is minor then visit optometrist or ophthalmologist will be more suitable if you have any above prevailing conditions or believe that the issue with your eyes is serious and requires specialized attention.

1 Comment

  1. mp3

    A round of applause for your blog post. Really looking forward to read more. Really Great. Marieann Parry Artamas


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