If you search the internet for eye doctors around you, you might come across different eye specialist terms that might create some confusion. Examples of these terms are opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists and cataract surgeons. To understand these specialists better, you should know what to do in case you experience eye problems:
Examples of Eye Problems
The most commonly experienced eye problems are blindness and short- and long-sightedness, blurry vision, light sensitivity, difficulty seeing or reading at night, pain in the eye, spotty vision, foggy vision and streaks in your vision.
If you encounter any of the symptoms mentioned above, you need to visit an optometrist. You can also visit an ophthalmologist if an optometrist is not available.
Understanding Optometrists and Ophthalmologists
Optometrists are eye doctors who specialise in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of different eye conditions. If you experience any eye symptoms, you need to visit an optometrist who will carry out some tests and, based on the results, guide you on what to do next.
Ophthalmologists are eye doctors who, like optometrists, prevent, diagnose and treat different eye conditions. They are, however, different from optometrists in that they can conduct eye surgery, while optometrists cannot; they might also charge higher than optometrists. An important thing to note is that the word ophthalmologists covers all eye doctors who can perform eye surgery. Therefore, a cataract surgeon can be referred to as an ophthalmologist.
What Happens When You Visit an Optometrist?
Expect to be asked different questions about your health and symptoms. The optometrist then conducts various eye tests to get a diagnosis. He or she may find that one of the following problems:
You have a refraction error that is making you long or short-sighted. Ther treatment for this is prescription glasses. The optometrist conducts prescription glass tests to find which lenses correct your refraction error, and then you are referred to an optician for prescription glass fitting.
You have a minor eye condition that can be treated or controlled with eye drops, oral medication, diet change or lifestyle modification.
You have a major eye condition that may require eye surgery. If this is the case, you are referred to an ophthalmologist.
What Happens When You Visit an Ophthalmologist?
The ophthalmologist will treat you the same as an optometrist but might only need to refer you to an optician for prescription glass fitting and designing. If the ophthalmologist diagnoses you with a minor or major eye condition, he or she can provide treatment.