There are three different types of Eye care professionals – an ophthalmologist, an optician, and an optometrist. In this post, we’ll focus on optometrists. An optometrist performs primary health care for people who are experiencing vision problems. Optometrists received training and education so they can check people’s eyes and come up with an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is made, an optometrist will recommend corrective lenses to solve the problem.
To obtain a Doctor of Optometry degree, one must complete a four-year program after successfully graduating from college. They can have the option to pursue additional training or they can opt for a specialty fellowship once they are done with their optometry degree.
What Do Optometrists Do?
Optometrists perform eye exams as well as vision tests. They also treat conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and aging eyes. They prescribe and provide contact lenses and eyeglasses as well as vision therapy and low-vision aids. They can also detect disorders, injuries, and diseases of the eyes.
What Are the Common Vision Problems Optometrists Treat?
Myopia or nearsightedness is a condition where your vision is good when an object is in close range but when the object moves farther, you won’t be able to see it clearly. This happens when your eyeball is too long. This condition can be diagnosed during an eye examination. Some of the treatments prescribed for nearsightedness include photorefractive keratotomy (PRK), radial keratotomy (RK), LASIK, contacts, eyeglasses, and acrylic corneal implants.
Hyperopia or farsightedness is the opposite of myopia. When you have hyperopia, you can see clearly at a distance but you won’t be able to at close range. This condition occurs when your eyeball is short as measured from the front to the back. It’s also possible that your cornea has less curvature. If the curvature is little, it will decrease the distance between your retina and cornea. As a result, the light will converge behind the retina instead of on it.
According to optometrists, mildly farsighted individuals don’t necessarily need corrective treatments. But, if the hyperopia is moderate to severe, you’ll need several treatments. Some of the treatments prescribed for patients with moderate and severe hyperopia are LASIK, contact lenses, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), and eyeglasses. Your optometrist will discuss what options are best for you.
Astigmatism is a condition wherein the curvature of your lens or cornea is irregular or uneven. This will result in distorted or blurry vision. Oftentimes, people with astigmatism experience eye fatigue, squinting, eye strain due to squinting, and headaches. Most people who have astigmatism got it from genetics. If the astigmatism is minor, treatment may not be necessary but if the astigmatism is severe, your optometrist may recommend LASIK surgery or prescribe corrective eyeglasses.
Presbyopia (Aging Eyes) or aging eyes is a condition wherein the lens of your eye becomes less flexible. When you lose your lens’ flexibility, it will be difficult for you to focus on objects clearly like printed words from books and magazines. With presbyopia, your vision of distant objects will not be affected.
Sadly, as you age, you will be prone to presbyopia. Even if you lead a healthy lifestyle, presbyopia is inevitable. The good news is that it can be treated through corrective lenses. Optometrists can prescribe you trifocals, bifocals, progressives, multifocal lenses, monovision therapy, and single-vision reading glasses.
Should I Visit an Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist?
A lot of people get confused whenever they experience problems with their visions. They don’t know if they should call an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.
If it’s just for a routine eye checkup, you can see both an ophthalmologist and an optometrist. However, if you think you are suffering from an eye health problem like glaucoma or a cataract or if your diabetes is slowly affecting your vision, the best person to see is an ophthalmologist.
How Often Should You Have Your Eyes Examined?
Even if your vision seems fine, you’re still advised to see an eye health professional every year. For young adults, you should visit your eye doctor once in your 20s. Twice a year checkups are recommended if you reach your 30s. For adults between forty and sixty, you are recommended to visit your eye doctor regularly depending on your health. For adults sixty-five years old and above, every two years are ideal. For children, it should be at birth, the moment they reach six months, three years old, and right before grade school.
Besides the routine checkups, you should see your optometrist when you experience vision changes, eye pain, and eye irritation like itching and redness. Having your eyes examined regularly will help catch problems before they worsen.