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1. Who Is an Ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist/ Eye doctor is a physician specialized in diagnosing and managing eye diseases and vision disorders. To become a general ophthalmologist, after graduating from a medical school, a doctor completes a residency program in ophthalmology. Additional subspecialty training may be obtained in areas such as pediatric ophthalmology, ophthalmic pathology, ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery, vitreoretinal diseases, cornea and external diseases, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, ocular oncology, and more.
An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats various conditions of eyes such as cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, eye or orbital injury, dry eyes, conjunctivitis, vision disorders, eye cancer, and others. They prescribe contact lenses or corrective glasses for refractive errors. Ophthalmologists also perform eye surgeries, such as cataract surgery, trabeculectomy, iridotomy, photocoagulation, vitrectomy, scleral buckle, and more.
2. When Should I See an Ophthalmologist?
You may want to see an ophthalmologist for regular eye exams. Your primary care provider also may refer you to an ophthalmologist if an eye disease is suspected. You should see an ophthalmologist if you notice these symptoms:
• Poor eyesight
• Changes in vision
• Eye strain
• Eye redness
• Eye floaters or spots in the vision
• Dry eyes
• Eye irritation or discomfort
• Blurred vision
• Discharge from or around the eye
• Increase in floaters
You should call 911 or your local emergency number if you have signs of an eye emergency:
• Total or partial loss of vision in one or both eyes
• Injury or trauma to the eye
• Bleeding of the eye
• Severe eye pain
If you have a family history of cataracts, glaucoma, or macular degeneration it’s a good idea to have regular eye exams. You should also see an ophthalmologist regularly if you have diabetes orhypertension.
3. What Kind of Tests Does an Ophthalmologist Perform or Recommend?
An ophthalmologist may perform various tests to check your vision or any other eye disease, including:
• Refraction test
• Visual field exam
• Visual acuity exam
• Dilated eye exam
• Slit-lamp ophthalmoscopy
• Tonometry (intraocular pressure)
• Retinal tomography
• Corneal topography
• Color blindness test
• Ocular ultrasonography
• Fluorescein angiography
4. What Kind of Procedures and Surgeries Does an Ophthalmologist Perform?
Ophthalmologists perform a wide range of procedures and surgeries on the eye and muscles and other structures around the eye to treat eye diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, retinal detachment, eye cancer, and eye trauma. They perform surgery to treat eye structure problems such as drooping eyelids, as well as plastic surgery such as eye lifts. They also perform refractive surgery to correct vision problems. The most common procedures performed by ophthalmologists include:
- Phacoemulsification and intraocular lens implantation for cataracts
- Keratoplasty or Lasik (laser eye surgery) for refractive errors (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism)
- Trabeculectomy for glaucoma
- Extraocular muscle surgery for strabismus
- Blepharoplasty for droopy eyelids
5. What Questions Should I Ask an Ophthalmologist?
You may want to ask an ophthalmologist these kinds of questions:
• What condition do I have? What caused it and what complications can I expect?
• Am I at risk for vision loss?
• What are the treatments options for my condition?
• What are the risks and side effects of this treatment?
• Are there alternative treatments?
• Do you perform this procedure regularly? What is the success rate of this procedure?
• What are the risks and complications associated with either having or not having this procedure?
• Are there any other symptoms associated with my condition? What symptoms should I watch for?
• Do I need to take medicines? Can I continue taking my other prescriptions and supplements?
• What precautions should I follow to reduce any increase in my problem?
• What special diet should I take to reduce my problem?
• Are there any particular activities I should avoid for a while? Can I drive?
• How often should I come in for checkups?