Optometrists are also referred to as doctors of optometry or ODs. They provide most of the primary vision care services. An optometrist is an eye doctor who examines people’s eyes, diagnoses visual problems and treats eye diseases. They test the patients’ visual acuity, coordination of the eyes, depth and color perception and ability to focus. An optometrist also prescribes contact lenses and eyeglasses, offers vision therapy services and rehabilitate low vision. After examining a patient’s eyes, the professional analyzes test results in order to develop a treatment plan.
The eye doctor administers drugs to a patient to diagnose any visual problem revealed by test results. He can also prescribe drugs to aid in the treatment of an eye disease. The OD often provides preoperative and postoperative care to his patients, for example those who have undergone eye surgery. Optometrists also diagnose vision problems caused by systematic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If need be, they refer patients to other doctors for more medical attention.
A majority of ODs are in general practice. Some optometrists specialize in working with partially sighted individuals, children, or the elderly. Others specialize in sports vision, contact lenses or vision therapy.
Optometrists go through classroom and laboratory programs which include health and visual sciences. They also receive clinical training on how to diagnose and treat eye disorders. The courses included in these programs are in optics, pharmacology, visual science, systematic diseases and biochemistry. An optometrist’s work involves manual dexterity and paying a lot of attention to detail.
What to expect when you visit an optometrist?
There are several things that feature most eye appointments with an eye doctor. This is what to expect:
1. The optometrist will need you to explain your general health. You will also be required to give any history of eye diseases in your family.
2. Testing your vision: The eye doctor checks your distance and close vision. He will tell you to read different charts of random letters and numbers of different sizes. Other aspects of your vision may also be tested, such as color perception, peripheral vision and your ability to see in 3D.
3. Your eye doctor may also test the pressure in your eyes (this is called tonometry). A tonometer or a puff of air is used for this purpose and tests for glaucoma.
4. Comprehensive eye exam: The optometrist closely examines different parts of the eyes. Eye drops may be used to dilate your pupils so that the eye doctor can see the inside of the eye well. This procedure may make your eyes sensitive to light for some hours. You should be careful when driving or better yet request someone to drive you home. You are also advised to wear sunglasses until the sensitivity to light vanishes.
Depending on your age and health, your eye doctor may see it necessary to perform other tests on your eyes.
Everyone needs to visit an optometrist at least twice per year for a comprehensive eye exam. This allows for detection of health problems so that they can be corrected as early as possible.