It is important to be proactive about eye health. Take a role in maintaining your sight and preventing its loss by choosing a doctor best suited for your needs - one who can give proper diagnosis and treatment, is informative, and promotes the best possible outcome. Depending on the extent of the problem, several different types of eye doctors and eye specialists can help, including an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician.
Ophthalmologists - eye doctors that specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, and also the prevention of eye disease and injury. Opthalmologists are either doctors of medicine (MD) or doctors of osteopathy (DO).
Optometrists - eye doctors of optometry (OD who are trained to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage some diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system. Optometrists have not attended medical school.
Opticians - eye healthcare professionals provide vision services related to the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems and eye disease. Opticians provide complete patient care before, during, and after exams, procedures and surgeries and help dispense, replace, adjust, repair and reproduce previously ordered contact lenses, eyeglasses and frames.
Regular eye exams and vision testing are important. Eye exams can correct common vision problems. Vision is important as a child begins to grow and learn. Even in infancy, it is important that your child receive regular eye examinations, probably by your pediatrician at first, then later by an ophthalmologist or other specialist. By pre-school your child should be having regular eye examinations to maintain proper eye health.
Exams also help to find eye diseases so they can be treated. Early treatment of many eye problems and diseases can prevent blindness. Be sure your eye doctor is informed about any family history of certain diseases. The most common types of tests that your eye doctor will perform follow.
1. Eye movement tests
Cover test - a cover test checks how well your eye muscles work and whether a squint is present. During a cover test, you look at targets far away and close up with one eye covered.
Motility - a motility movement test checks that eye muscles are working properly. As you follow a target with your eyes, you report double vision, pain or difficulty following the target.
Near point of convergence - during a near point of convergence test, a target is moved closer to your eye until you go cross eyed or see double in order to test whether your eye muscles work normally, or not.
2. Health tests
Ophthalmoscopy - an opthhalmoscopy detects problems such as glaucoma, high blood pressure or diabetes. During this procedure, the doctor shines light in theeye as you look at a target and move your eyes in various directions. Alternatively, doctors might examine the eye with a type of microscope.
Tonometry - this exam tests for glaucoma. During the test, a doctor puffs air into the eye to measure pressure. Or, a doctor will drop yellow dye into the eye and shine a blue light on it.
Visual field - the vision field test checks field of vision as you sit at a machine looking straight ahead and indicate when you see dim lights flash in your peripheral vision.
3. Vision tests
Vision tests generally test your vision and evaluate which prescription lens can work best for you.
Visual acuity - this type of test examines vision by using a chart to check what you can see with each eye, at a distance with letters of decreasing size on a wall or screen and close-up through paragraphs of differently sized text.
Retinoscopy - a retinoscopy checks for short or long-sightedness and astigmatism. During this test, you look at a red / green target or a spot of light in the distance, while the doctor shines a light in your eyes to see how it reflects on the back of them.
Subjective refraction - this vision test looks for difficulties seeing at a distance. The doctor inserts different lenses into a frame and to determine clearest vision while you read from a letter chart.
Reading addition - reading addition tests are used to identify difficulties seeing close up and use a close-up chart to check whether or not you need different lenses for close-up work.
Your optometrist will discuss outcomes of each eye test with you and should explain whether you need glasses, contact lenses, or a new prescription. There are times when an eye test may reveal other previously undetected problems. You will then be referred to your family doctor or local eye specialist for more information and follow up. To learn which methods are commonly used to treat eye problems, continue reading. We'll outline how to treat eye problems in the Eye Treatments section that follows.