People often confuse optometrists with ophthalmologists, both of whom are related to the health and treatment of the eyes. However, the role of an optometrist is much more diverse and extensive than the latter. Also called ODs and Doctor of Optometry, optometrists are the major care providers for vision and eye health. They are responsible for diagnosing vision problems, testing the eyes and making the required prescriptions. Let’s see in detail what do these professionals do, and how to find the best one for you.
Duties of an Optometrist:
Optometrists can practice in many different settings. Some have private practices, either as a solo practice or with a partner or group. Others collaborate with other health care professionals, such as ophthalmologists, in a multi-disciplinary practice. All optometrists practice in large corporate settings, such as Lens Crafters or Pearle Vision, while still others are engaged by the military or public health service, hospitals, teaching institutions, or the ophthalmic industry.
You can find optometrists in different settings, including hospitals, clinics and eye care centers. Here are a few tasks that optometrists are responsible for handling:
- Diagnosing and treating eye diseases, including systemic diseases showing ocular symptoms, like diabetes, cancer, HIV, thyroid issues or high blood pressure;
- Handling equipment used for testing eyes and diagnosing issues;
- Conducting eye exams to assess a patient’s vision, refraction, eye coordination, color perception, depth acuity etc.;
- Providing eye care before or after an eye surgery, like refractive surgery (such as LASIK), retinal surgery or cataract surgery;
- Recommending special eye-care services to the patients, such as vision therapy, low vision rehabilitation etc.;
- Educating patients about regular eye exercises that can be helpful in improving vision;
- Writing prescriptions for contact lenses or eye glasses, based on the patient’s eye exam results;
- Referring medicines for eye diseases, including antibiotics, NSAIDs, analgesics and antihistamines;
- Prescribing surgery, if needed;
- Prescribing preventive measures to enhance eye health and minimize eye disease risk, such as getting proper nutrition and taking hygiene seriously;
- Counseling patients who are going to have an eye surgery;
- Reviewing past records of the patient to assess current vision health;
- Working with ophthalmologists to enhance the eye health of the patient.
While most of the optometrists work for the overall eye care and health, some of them develop specialization in particular fields, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, contact lenses, vision therapy, etc. While they specialize in these branches, they still remain full-scope optometrist practitioners. Some may be experts at custom fitting magnifying devices for blind patients so that they can read. An Optometrists perform comprehensive examinations of the eye evaluate the visual system, diagnose any problems, and then prescribe an appropriate treatment. Those specializing in occupational vision develop ways to keep eyes protected from work related injury or strain. Some may focus on head trauma, ocular disease, sports vision, special testing methods etc.
Choosing the Right Optometrist
Since these professionals are so important for your eye and vision health, it becomes all the more important to select one wisely. Here are a few things that you need to look for during your search:
- Try to find out their credentials by searching for them online. They should have a 4-year OD degree from a reputed college;
- Experience is very important when it comes to handing over your eye health to a professional. Experienced optometrists must have handled several such conditions and procedures in the past, and they may be able to devise the best treatment plan for you;
- The optometrist that you choose must be comfortable to talk to and should give you all the information you need. They should welcome your questions and answer in a way that you understand. They should be interested in listening to their patients and understanding their personal preferences;
- Unwavering Reputation Throughout helps you know what is best for you based on other’s opinions;
- Affordability Convenience Eye Checkups are an important eye exam you should not skip;
- Experience in any field matters a ton. Optometrist in Nepean has spent some time in the industry, they would know the ins and outs of the industry. Every time the experience can also help in detecting issues before the eye tests even come in to play;
- An optometrist who keeps you waiting might not be the one for you. Select an optometrist that treats you as a priority and makes sure your needs are met at the earliest is the best choice.
If you have a vision insurance, make sure that the optometrist you are choosing is covered under it. But still, you must give preference to his or her credentials, education, experience, and attitude. Going for a regular eye test is very important for the maintenance of your eye health, but whenever you face a problem with your vision, head towards a reputed and reliable professional in your area.