What is an ophthalmologist, and what does an ophthalmologist do?

It is very important to keep our eyes healthy, as they can come under various conditions that threaten our vision, and more. That’s where an ophthalmologist comes in.

What is an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a doctor of medicine who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ailments of the eye, besides diagnosing systemic diseases that manifest in eye signs or symptoms.

Since ophthalmologists perform operations on eyes, they are considered to be both surgical and medical specialists.

In fact, the single health professional trained both medically and surgically to treat eye conditions -- such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma -- is an ophthalmologist.

What does an ophthalmologist do?

Historically, the practice of ophthalmology has encompassed all aspects of visual function in health and disease, such as refraction, orthoptics, binocular vision and strabismus. Medical and surgical treatment of disorder between the visual system and comprehension of ocular manifestations of systemic illness are also an essential component of the practice of ophthalmology.

Ophthalmologists offer a thorough approach to ocular symptoms and disease. They are mostly concerned with correcting imperfections and treating ailments of the eye that cause diminished or lack of eyesight. They assess the state of the patient's eye, diagnose any abnormalities found, intervene to preserve the sense of sight, and evaluate if the condition has improved.

An ophthalmologist may also conduct eye surgeries such as cataract extraction, lens replacement, cornea reshaping, transplants, retinal detachment repair, and glaucoma treatment. Most of these procedures are usually performed with the aid of lasers and computerized surgical tools, but the majority are still done by hand.

In addition to diagnosing and treating celiac disease by medical or surgical means, ophthalmologists offer comprehensive ocular-visual assessment, which may include the prescription of corrective lenses.

Ophthalmologists may also operate on animals, since the eye's anatomy and physiology have few differences among closely related species. But a veterinary eye physician is often considered a different specialist with separate licensing and regulation. Generally, ophthalmologists are supposed to be wholly dedicated to the treatment and study of the human eye, but some may find veterinary ophthalmology practice to be a more attractive area.

When to see an ophthalmologist

See an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Reduction of vision or diminished vision in one or both eyes
  • Changes in vision such as sudden areas, flashes of light, lightning streaks or jagged lines of light, wavy or watery vision, fuzzy faces, distortions or wavy lines, haloes around lights, double vision
  • Changes in the Area of vision such as shadows, curtain-like lack of vision, black spots or blurriness in central or peripheral (side) vision
  • Physical changes to the eye such as crossed eyes, eyes that turn out, up or down, pain, signs of infection (redness, swelling, discharge, etc.. )
  • Changes in color vision

Ophthalmologist vs optometrist. What is the difference

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who specializes in vision and eye care. Ophthalmologists are trained to do eye examinations , diagnose and cure disease, prescribe drugs and perform eye surgery. In addition they write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist is a eye doctor who has earned the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists examine eyes to both vision and health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing glasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low vision care and vision treatment .

The biggest difference between the two is that an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the eye, and an optometrist is an eye doctor.

If your eyes are healthy and do not need specialized medical or surgical procedures, the type of eye doctor that you choose for a routine eye examination is a question of personal preference.

Optometrists and ophthalmologists both execute routine eye examinations and both kinds of eye doctors are trained to detect, diagnose and manage eye diseases that require medical and anti inflammatory therapy.

When should you see an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full range of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to performing complex and delicate eye surgery. They might also be involved in research about eye diseases and remedies. Some ophthalmologists will get additional fellowship training in a subspecialty field of ophthalmology, including retina, cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, oculoplastics, refractive surgery, uveitis, pathology, or neuro-ophthalmology.

When should you see an optometrist?

Optometrists can perform an eye examination and can ascertain the existence of vision-related problems. They can also prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Based on the condition in which they practice, optometrists may be allowed to treat eye diseases and prescribe eye drops for various conditions, but they are not trained or licensed to perform surgery on the eye.

Seeing both an ophthalmologist and an optometrist

In many cases, care for a particular eye problem might be provided by an optometrist and an ophthalmologist working together. This arrangement is known as co-management.

In co-management, your primary care doctor (usually an optometrist) refers you to a specialist (usually an ophthalmologist) for a definitive diagnosis and treatment strategy. The ophthalmologist might opt to manage the problem medically, perform eye surgery, or even both. After the status is controlled or properly treated, the expert then sends you straight back to your primary care eye doctor, who proceeds to monitor and treat your condition or carry out post-operative care dependent on the specialist's recommendations.

Co-management is an especially good solution if you're quite happy with the standard of care you are receiving from your primary care doctor, but you desire to have any specific medical eye conditions treated by an experienced specialist.