Should I Go See an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?

Posted in Optometry Information

If you’ve been experiencing some unsettling eye symptoms, you might not know where to turn. You may be wondering if an optometrist is best suited for your needs, or if an ophthalmologist is the way to go. Here’s an overview to help you get to the right place.

Problem #1: Blurry Vision

If you’ve gone most of your life without vision problems, it can be disconcerting to begin noticing that objects around you are becoming blurry. While this is oftentimes merely a matter of changing vision, blurry sight can also be a precursor to a bigger eye problem. The best place to go for an initial eye exam is an optometrist. A Doctor of Optometry (OD) regularly provides comprehensive eye exams, and will be able to tell you if you simply need some corrective lenses or if you’re facing a bigger issue, like glaucoma. An optometrist can treat disease like glaucoma and will refer you to an ophthalmologist if surgical procedures are needed.

Problem #2: Damaged Contacts or Broken Glasses

When you’ve torn a contact or broken your glasses, it’s time to see an optometrist. They can get you a new pair of contacts or get you on your way to fixing your glasses. They can also make sure your current prescription is correct and up to date. This is important, as wearing old lenses can cause eye strain and other problems. It’s a good idea to get your prescription checked by an optometrist annually.

Problem #3: Cataracts

If your eye symptoms include cloudiness, light sensitivity or double vision in a single eye… it’s likely you could have a cataract. An optometrist can diagnose cataracts and how mature they are.  Once the cataract has reached a mature enough stage and surgery is required, the optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist for surgery. An ophthalmologist is specially trained to diagnose and treat diseases, and to perform eye surgery. Cataracts can be very serious, as they’re known to lead to blindness, so it’s important you seek out proper care as soon as you think this might be your situation. If caught early enough, an ophthalmologist can perform cataract surgery and resolve the problem fairly quickly and painlessly.

Problem #4: Eye Pain

What do you do if you’re experiencing eye pain? The reality is that either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist could help you determine the root cause of your pain. Some people prefer to start with an optometrist, understanding that this doctor will ultimately refer them to an ophthalmologist as needed. Others worry that their eye pain is so severe that it could be indicative of a greater health concern, and think it makes more sense to go to an eye surgeon right away. The choice is yours in this case. What matters most is that you do make it a priority to get an eye evaluation from a qualified doctor.

Problem #5: Poor Vision and Itchy Eyes

Poor eyesight is a bad enough problem on its own, but sometimes it’s exacerbated by further eye symptoms. If you wear contacts and are regularly affected by allergies, you might experience dryness and itchiness in the eyes as a result. Wearing contacts when dealing with this issue can just make matters worse. If this scenario sounds familiar, or if you’re just plain tired of hassling with contacts or glasses, it may be time to consider LASIK. Getting your vision corrected permanently through laser eye surgery can do away with these types of aggravating eye problems while giving you clear sight at the same time. And when you want to pursue LASIK, either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist is the right choice of doctor to see for an initial consultation and to find out if you’re a good candidate for LASIK.   They can both determine if LASIK is right for you.

If you’re still wondering whether to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for your specific eye symptoms, you can always place a call to both offices. Explain what you’re experiencing, and ask if they could direct you to the right place. It might take a couple calls or a couple doctor visits to get to the bottom of your problems, but your vision is worth it.

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