Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Optician, Obstetrician….Who should you see for an eye exam?
Your child came home from school complaining she can’t see the board, and the contacts you’re wearing that used to be great, are now making it hard for you to see your phone. Gone are the days of the Yellow Pages (and thank goodness, because the print is too small to read), and so you Google: Eye Doctor in Wellington. You’ll find results for Ophthalmologists in Wellington, Vision Center in Wellington, Optometrist in Wellington…the list is endless. Who should you see for an eye exam? The choice depends on the reason for your visit.
In 1783, the first Optical Shop providing Optometric Services opened in Philadelphia. They made glasses framed with gold and silver. In 1901, the first law recognizing optometry as a profession was passed in Minnesota. The profession was focused on perfecting the optics of the eye, to provide clear vision. Over the last century, Optometry has evolved significantly to encompass the treatment of eye disease in addition to the treatment of blurred vision caused by refractive errors like near-sightedness and astigmatism. Today, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists have many things in common, but there are some important differences that may help you to decide whom you should see for the care you’re seeking.
Here is a snapshot of the two professions. Ophthalmologists are surgeons. They attend medical school, and complete a residency and fellowship to learn the skills necessary to operate on the eye. They perform surgery for cataracts, retinal detachments, glaucoma, macular degeneration, eye muscle weaknesses, and elective surgeries like LASIK. Although they know how to determine the power needed for glasses or contacts, the vast majority do not perform these services and instead defer to a technician in their office to do so. Optometrists are not surgeons. They attend optometry school, and complete a residency to learn the skills necessary to treat eye disease and correct blurred vision. Optometrists are specialists in sight, insuring that vision is corrected in such a way that allows the eye muscles to use the eyes together for clear, comfortable vision throughout the day. They also treat eye infections, glaucoma, dry eyes, and many other conditions not requiring surgery. Additionally, they are experts in contact lenses.
What about the other O’s; Opticians and Obstetricians? In the U.S., Opticians fit, make, and dispense glasses. They are experts in lens design and the important measurements that insure that your glasses will fit comfortably and that the prescription written by your optometrist is appropriately centered in your lenses. Their expertise in anti-reflective lens treatments, progressive lens designs, and lens materials are critical to the vision you will achieve with your glasses. This is a BIG reason why leaving them out of the equation when ordering glasses online is a BIG mistake.
And lastly, as an Optometrist, I’ve been called an Obstetrician on a few occasions…mistakenly of course. I have yet to deliver any babies. I’ll leave that to the experts.
We are very fortunate to have access to excellent Ophthalmologists in Wellington. In addition, there are many options for excellent family eye care in Wellington, provided by Optometrists. Our eye care center, located on the border of Lake Worth and Wellington, provides comprehensive eye health evaluations and refractive care. Our Optometrists are terrific with patients of all ages, and can provide great recommendations for surgical care if needed.