Are you wondering why an eye doctor is called an ophthalmologist? It's because they are a doctor or osteopath who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, and is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. They are secondary level eye care providers who often work with their optometrist.
Ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions, some even specialize in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. This additional training and knowledge prepares the ophthalmologist to deal with more complex or specific conditions in certain areas of the eye or in certain groups of patients. Optometrists are health professionals who provide primary eye care that ranges from vision tests and corrections to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist receives a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more of college.
They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and eye tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases. Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify, and adjust lenses and frames for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other devices to correct vision. They use prescriptions provided by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but they don't do vision tests or write prescriptions for vision correction. Opticians are not authorized to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
Ophthalmic technicians or technologists are highly trained assistants who can help an eye professional with more complex tests and operations. We all depend on our vision in more ways than we can realize. Without healthy vision, our ability to work, play, drive, or even recognize a face can be drastically affected. Many factors can affect our eyesight, including other health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
Having a family member with eye disease can also make you more likely to have that condition. Eye disease that steals sight can appear at any time. Very often they are imperceptible at first and are difficult to detect. That's why it's so important to see an ophthalmologist for a full eye exam before age 40, and then as often as your eye doctor tells you.
The following are just some of the signs or risk factors for eye disease: blurred vision; double vision; redness; pain; swelling; discharge; floaters; flashes; halos; dry eyes; itching; burning; sensitivity to light; difficulty seeing at night; difficulty focusing; difficulty reading small print; headaches; dizziness; nausea; fatigue; difficulty driving at night; loss of peripheral vision; tunnel vision; watery eyes; tearing up easily; squinting; crossed eyes; bulging eyes. If you have any of these symptoms, be sure to visit an ophthalmologist - a complete ophthalmic medical exam performed by an eye doctor could be the first step to saving your eyesight.Levels of training and experience, and what they are allowed to do for you, are the main difference between types of eye care providers. Keep in mind that these professionals can work together and that a team approach may be the best option for eye care. When it's time to have an eye check, make sure you see the right eye professional for your needs.