Vision is such a natural and integral part of our lives that we seldom think about it until something goes awry and we lose clarity or comfort to the point where it impacts our lives. Most people are born with or develop vision that is less than 20/20, and there are easy fixes to relieve symptoms, including glasses and contacts. But more serious problems can lurk beneath the surface and, unless they’re caught in time, cause permanent harm.
“When caught early, nearly all eye diseases and disorders can be prevented, corrected or arrested,” says Lake Eye ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Vocci. “So it’s important to discover them early with regular eye exams.”
Which type of exam you need and who should perform it can be confusing. Let’s start with explaining which vision professional does what.
Ophthalmologist – Whether an MD or a DO, an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and eye surgeon who has completed four years of medical school, a year of internship and at least three years of hospital-based residency training in the diagnoses and surgical and nonsurgical treatment of eye diseases. Ophthalmologists who sub-specialize undergo at least one to two years of Fellowship training in their chosen specialization(s).
“Ophthalmologists do everything from routine health exams to assessing eyelid function to measuring intraocular pressure,” says Dr. Vocci. “From there we recommend any needed procedures, from glasses to prescription eye drops to surgery for problems like cataracts. Regular ophthalmology appointments are your eyesight’s best friend.”
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends seeing an ophthalmologist as follows:
Infants: Within the first 3 months, again between 6-12 months old, and again between 3 – 3 ½ years old
Adults: At least once between ages 20 – 29, at least twice between ages 30 – 39, every one to two years between ages 40 – 64, and every year at age 65 and older.
People with risk factors for glaucoma, including those of African descent and/or with a family history of the disease, should see an ophthalmologist every three to five years between ages 20 – 29 and every two to four years ages 30 – 39.
Optometrist – An OD is a state-licensed doctor of optometry qualified to examine the eyes for the presence of refractive problems and prescribe corrective glasses or contact lenses.
Optician – Once you have a prescription from your ophthalmologist or optometrist, an optician will to help you select the right eyeglasses and/or contact lenses and ensure their proper fit and use.
For most people, a regular check-up with an ophthalmologist and prescription for corrective lenses are enough to protect and restore crisp, clear vision. Says Dr. Vocci, “Regular eye exams are good preventive medicine and will help maintain healthy vision throughout your lifetime.”
So if you haven’t seen an ophthalmologist in a while (or ever), make a call to Lake Eye Associates, and prepare to see the world in a whole new light.