If you've always visited an optometrist for your eye and vision care needs, you may be wondering why some people consult ophthalmologists instead. Ophthalmology is a separate (if related) discipline than optometry, and it includes the ability to address some eye care that optometrists aren't trained or qualified to approach. Here are three things your local ophthalmologist can do to help you preserve your eye function and visual acuity -- optimizing your overall quality of life in the process.
1. Replace Your Optometrist for Primary Eye Care
An ophthalmologist can do everything than an optometrist can do, including primary eye care. This eye specialist has a thorough grounding in preventative health and wellness procedures, from vision testing (using an eye chart) and checking for signs of eye disease to evaluating eye function. If your family member suffers from common problems such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, their ophthalmologist can prescribe the right corrective prescription and fit them for glasses or contact lenses, just as an optometrist would. Since ophthalmologists can also treat more advanced eye and vision problems, you can eliminate the need for two different eye doctors simply by choosing an ophthalmologist as your all-in-one eye care consultant.
2. Treat Complex Eye Diseases
Some eye diseases require medical treatment, not just vision correction. Diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration can rob you of your vision if the damage they do to your eyes isn't arrested or slowed. Unfortunately, the O.D. degree held by most optometrist doesn't cover this area of eye care -- so when optometrists discover a condition beyond their range of treatment, they refer patients to ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist actually holds an M.D. degree, and as a doctor of medicine is qualified to prescribe and perform a variety of treatment techniques. If you suffer from a known medical condition that affects your eyes, of if you're entering your senior years (during which the risk for such problems goes up), knowing a skilled ophthalmologist can take a load off of your mind (not to mention your eyes).
3. Perform Eye Surgery
Many eye conditions that don't respond to conservative treatment techniques can be successfully treated with surgery. For example, if you have glaucoma that that can't be controlled by medicated eye drops, you might need laser surgery to reduce the internal eye pressure that damages the optic nerves. An ophthalmologist is fully trained and qualified to perform this kind of surgery, along with eye tumor removal, sealing of leaky blood vessels in the eye, or replacement of lenses diseased by cataracts. You may even choose to rely on an ophthalmologist for non-urgent or elective surgeries such as LASIK -- which can permanently improve your vision without glasses or contacts.
If you want to keep seeing clearly and enjoying the world around you as thoroughly as possible, you'll want to take every possible measure to keep your eyes healthy and functional. Make this goal easier and more convenient for yourself by contacting your local ophthalmology clinic and getting to know the experts there!