Everything You Need To Know About Optometrists

Choosing an eye specialist whenever your eyesight develops complications is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make in life. This is because you’ll be trusting the health-care specialist to take good care of your eyesight, and help maintain good vision for the rest of your life.

The first step that you must take is to clearly understand that eyesight specialists can be classified into three:
1. Optometrists
2. Ophthalmologists
3. Opticians

This article focuses on optometrists.

Who is an optometrist?
The title refers to an expert who has specialized in eye care. One must first earn a degree in Optometry to qualify for practice. Optometry primarily involves the examination of eyes to determine existence of health and vision complications, and correction of refractive errors through prescription of contact lenses or eyeglasses. It also involves provision of vision therapy and low-vision care.

Upon obtaining the requisite license, an optometrist can prescribe drugs to treat a variety of diseases and problems that affect eyesight. In most parts of the world, the scope of care that the eye specialist can provide is determined by law.

If an ophthalmologist conducts eye surgery on you, you may need to ask a good optometrist to take part in the post operative care. It’s also important to seek the specialist’s services before undergoing the surgical procedure. Generally, optometrists are prohibited from performing eye surgery because they lack the required training and license.

Anyone who wishes to become an optometrist must first pursue and successfully complete a degree in that field. The program usually takes four years. Additionally, the candidate must undergo professional training in an accredited optometry school at postgraduate level for at least four years. The educational requirements are without doubt, rigorous.

Just like ophthalmologists and other medical specialists, optometrists are expected to undergo continuous training so as to stay abreast with changes in the field of eye care, and also maintain their licenses.
Optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists- is there a difference between the three?

An optometrist is a title that refers to a professional who has the capacity of providing primary vision care services such as; testing eyesight, diagnosing conditions, managing vision changes and treating ailments. The eye specialist shouldn’t be regarded as a medical doctor.

An ophthalmologist is an osteopathic medical doctor with a specialty in vision care and eye care. They are trained to examine eyes, diagnose and treat ailments that affect eyes, prescribe drugs and carry out eye surgery when necessary. Additionally, they provide prescriptions for patients who need contact lenses and/or eyeglasses.

An optician is a technician who has specialized in the design, verification and fitting of devices that correct eyesight, namely; contact lenses and frames & lenses in eyeglasses. The health-care specialist makes use of prescriptions given by optometrists and ophthalmologists. However, he/she cannot conduct vision tests or provide prescriptions to correct eyesight problems. Additionally, an optician cannot diagnose or treat diseases that affect the eyes.

When should I see an optometrist?
It’s very important to visit a specialist in optometry if you experience any of the following: bulging of the eyes, development of dark curtains that block vision, unusual redness, decreased vision, unusual pain, distorted vision, loss of peripheral vision, double vision or development of colored circles.
You should also seek the services of an optometrist if you are at risk of developing eye complications. Some of the risk factors include: diabetes mellitus, diseases that affect thyroid glands, excess tearing, misaligned eyes, eyelid abnormalities, HIV/AIDS, history of eye diseases in the family and hypertension.

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