What is an Ophthalmologist?

An Eye M.D. is an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Eye M.D.s are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Many Eye M.D.s are also involved in scientific research into the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.

What is the difference between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?

The distinction between ophthalmology and optometry is a frequent source of confusion. In addition to the fact that both are concerned with eye care, several other factors contribute to this misunderstanding. One source of confusion stems from the fact that optometrists are often referred to as “eye doctors” although, unlike ophthalmologists, they do not have medical degrees. To read more on the differences between Ophthalmologists and Optometrists please Click Here.

What does ‘Board Certified’ mean?

Most (but not all) Eye M.D.s are board certified. A board certified Eye M.D. has passed a rigorous two-part examination given by the American Board of Ophthalmology designed to assess his/her knowledge, experience and skills.

How often should I have an eye exam?

Contact lens wearers and diabetics should have eye exams annually. Routine exams should happen every 2-3 years, but at age 60+ patients should be seen about every 1-2 years. Any other diagnoses or family history factors lead to the necessity for more frequent follow-up.

How do I administer eye drop medicines?

Sit and lean your head back or lay down, pull lower eyelid down, look up slightly, squeeze drop from bottle so that drop lands inside lower eyelid, close eye gently and dab with tissue.

What is astigmatism?

There is something about the unusual sound of this word that makes this question so common. Actually, astigmatism is an easy concept to grasp. The clear window in the front of the eye called the cornea should be spherically-shaped, like a basketball so that the light from an image comes to a sharp focus on the back of the eye. With astigmatism, the cornea has an elliptical shape, like a football, and the image is optically distorted when it shines on the retina. Most people have a small amount of astigmatism. Glasses and contacts correct for astigmatism by altering the way light passes through the optical system of the eye, thus neutralizing the corneal astigmatism.

When should a child have their first eye exam?

All children should have a first eye exam by age 4 or 5 to screen for amblyopia (sometimes referred to as lazy eye syndrome). This screening is a vision test that is usually performed in a pediatrician’s office during a routine check-up. Once a screening has been performed, a complete eye exam by an ophthalmologist is recommended, should an abnormality be detected. Parents may be unaware of the development of amblyopia because the eyes may appear to have straight alignment. If not detected until after age 6, amblyopia may be difficult or impossible to treat, but if detected in early childhood, it may be treated with glasses, temporarily patching one eye, eye drops, or a combination of these.

Why does my Eye M.D. dilate my eyes?

A thorough examination of the back portion of the eye, which includes the macula, peripheral retina, and optic nerve, can only be adequately performed after the eyes are dilated. Without dilation, the pupils will constrict to a small size when a bright examining light is shone into the eyes. (Imagine examining the contents of a room through a keyhole. You could only see a small area of the inside of the room, unless the keyhole is enlarged.) Dilating drops both enlarge the size of the pupil and make the pupil non-reactive when bright light is shone into the eye. Common eye diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and various other eye diseases are best detected after the pupils are dilated. Dilation will affect your ability to read up close for approximately two hours, sometimes longer in certain individuals. Distance vision is generally not affected by dilation. The eyes may feel uncomfortable in bright light when eyes have been dilated, therefore temporary dark sunglasses may be offered after your examination.

What are lasers?

The word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It is a highly focused, intense beam of a single color of light. Ophthalmologists (or Eye M.D.s), with special training, can use lasers in a variety of ways such as treatment of certain diagnoses of cataracts, glaucoma, wet age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinal holes, cosmetic surgery, and refractive surgery such as PRK and LASIK.

What is a sub-specialist?

A sub-specialist is an ophthalmologist who undergoes additional training of 1-2 years following the completion of his/her residency, to gain additional clinical skills and experience within a specified area of the broader field of ophthalmology. This typically entails caring for individuals with more severe, more complicated, and less common ophthalmic problems.

The following are subspecialties in Ophthalmology:

Cornea and External Disease: This subspecialty involves the diagnosis and management of diseases of the cornea, sclera, conjunctiva and eyelids, including corneal dystrophies, microbial infections, conjunctival and corneal tumors, inflammatory processes and anterior ocular manifestations of systemic diseases. Training in this area frequently includes corneal transplant surgery and corneal surgery to correct refractive errors.

Glaucoma: This subspecialty includes the treatment of glaucoma and other disorders that may cause optic nerve damage by increasing intraocular pressure. This area involves the medical and surgical treatment of both pediatric and adult patients.

Neuro-Ophthalmology: Involving the relationship between neurologic and ophthalmic diseases, neuro-ophthalmology also deals with local pathology affecting the optic nerve and visual pathways. Over 50 percent of all intracranial lesions involve the visual or oculomotor pathways. Neuro-Ophthalmology is generally practiced as a nonsurgical subspecialty but can be combined with surgery of the eye and orbit.

Ophthalmic Pathology: The ophthalmic pathologist has training in both ophthalmology and pathology, typically in that order. Because of the unique combination of skills involved in this sub specialty, it is usually the ophthalmic pathologist, rather than the general pathologist, who examines tissue specimens from the eye and adnexa.

Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery: The practice of ophthalmic plastic surgery includes orbital surgery, lid and upper facial reconstructive procedures following trauma and tumors, and cosmetic lid surgery. Oculoplastic surgeons combine ophthalmic surgery with plastic surgery and are trained in the use of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and chemosurgery to treat ocular and orbital disease.

Pediatric Ophthalmology: The bulk of pediatric ophthalmic practice involves the medical and surgical management of strabismus, amblyopia, genetic and developmental abnormalities, and a wide range of inflammatory, traumatic, and neoplastic conditions occurring in the first two decades of life. This sub specialty also deals with the ocular manifestations of certain systemic disorders.

Vitreoretinal Diseases: This subspecialty involves both the medical and surgical treatment of retinal and vitreoretinal disease. The types of diseases treated include manifestations of local, systemic and genetic diseases as they affect the retina and vitreous. Diagnosis involves the use and interpretation of ultrasound, fluorescein angiography, and electrophysiology. Treatment methods include injections, laser therapy, cryotherapy, retinal detachment surgery and vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous).