The most active muscle in your entire body is your eye. In fact, it blinks 15 to 20 times a minute and has over two million moving parts.
Pretty impressive, right?
It makes sense, though, with so many things going on that issues can arise. While most people refer to eye doctors as just that, their eye doctor, there is actually an array of interesting eye-related specialties out there.
There may come a time when you need the help of eye care specialists, so getting to know what’s “out there” is beneficial. Keep reading to learn about some lesser-known professions in the eye-health industry.
This is an eye doctor who specializes in medical and surgical care of the visual system, including the eyes. They also provide care for preventing eye injuries and diseases. Some ophthalmologists are Doctors of Medicine – MD – while others are doctors of osteopathy – DO.
An ophthalmologist with an MD designation focuses on disease-specific diagnosis and treatment, while those with the OD designation focus on the loss of function and structure in different body parts because of disease, including the eye. For example, you would see an ophthalmologist for a condition called orthokeratology.
The benefit of going to an ophthalmologist is that they are qualified and have the proper education to deliver complete eye care, which means visions services, eye exams, medical eye care, and surgical eye care. Other specialists may not provide the same array of services because of their limited education and training.
An optometrist is an eye Doctor of Optometry – OD. They can provide eye exams, diagnose problems, treat eye health issues and provide management for some disorders and diseases of your visual system and eyes.
An optometrist has completed four years of education at an accredited optometry college. Unlike an ophthalmologist, an optometrist is trained to look at the internal and external structures of your eye. This is done to detect various diseases, such as cataracts, retinal detachment, and glaucoma.
They can also diagnose and treat other conditions, including presbyopia, astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness. They may also test a person’s ability to coordinate and focus the eyes and to see colors and depth accurately.
Opticians work with optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide vision services related to the treatment and diagnosis of eye disease and vision problems. The help other eye health caregivers and provide complete patient care during and after surgeries, procedures, and exams.
An optician typically has a two-year technical degree. They analyze and interpret eye prescriptions, figure out the lenses that meet a person’s needs, oversee the verification of products replace, repair, adjust, or reproduce frames, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
4. Low Vision Specialists
Some ophthalmologists and optometrists have additional specialization or credentials in low vision testing, diagnosis, and treatment of those with low vision. They can also prescribe low vision optical devices.
If you have suffered significant vision loss, then a low vision specialist can figure out what treatment is necessary. Some treatment options they offer include improved lighting, non-optical devices, and other types of specialized equipment and services to maintain existing vision.
5. Certified Ophthalmic Registered Nurses
This is a registered nurse who has specialized training to perform ophthalmic exams, patient assessments based on a human’s response to ophthalmic diseases, to teach patients about their conditions, triage, and prevention services.
The ophthalmic registered nurse often works in private offices, hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and operating rooms. The goal of someone in this position is to assist patients and preserve and maximize the vision they have. Other responsibilities include preventing eye disease while promoting independence.
An orthoptist is supervised by an ophthalmologist and is a certified allied health professional. Their role is to help in the evaluation and treatment of disorders with the visual system. With an orthoptist, they put an emphasis on binocular vision (which is using both eyes for seeing) and problems with eye movement.
Usually, an orthoptist is only found in pediatric ophthalmology settings; however, this isn’t always the case. Orthoptists have a bachelor’s degree, along with a post-graduate two-year fellowship.
This is an eye health professional who works directly under a licensed Doctor of Optometry. Their job is to collect information from patients, administer routine and technical tests of a patient’s visual abilities, and help with office management tasks.
A paraoptometric may also help an optometrist offer primary patient care exams, along with treatment services. Some of these treatments include optical dispensing, vision therapy, low vision, contact lenses, and more.
In some states, there are laws that restrict, limit or even affect duties handled by paraoptometrics.
8. Optometric Technician
Any paraoptometric who is prepared for more job duties thanks to clinical and academic experience is called an optometric technician. These technicians work with optometrists, helping with exams and treatment for vision and eye health issues.
Some services offered by an optometric technician include office management, optical dispensing, vision therapy, low vision, and contact lenses. Usually, those in this position have finished a college program and taken the Optometric Technician Registry Exam. You can recognize these eye-health care providers because they have the Opt. T., R. designation.
9. Certified Ophthalmic Personnel
This eye health professional is qualified to help the ophthalmologist. They can provide several services, including taking a patient’s basic history, visual field testing, and ophthalmic photography. They will base their specific duties on their level of certification.
10. Optometric Assistant
If a paraoptometric is mainly involved in procedures that go on n the front office, they will be classified as an optometric assistant. This individual is responsible for the dispersion of contact lenses and glasses and providing a patient’s with resources and education.
11. Certified Retinal Angiographer
The certified retinal angiographer, or OMP, is an ophthalmic imaging specialist. They are certified by the OPS – Ophthalmic Photographer’s Society. There’s also a certification status for Optical Coherence Tomography.
12. Certified Orthoptist
An OMP is certified for providing treatment and testing that’s related to eye movements and muscles of the eye. This is another specialty in the eye-health field.
Choosing the Right Eye Specialist or Eye Doctor
Because your vision is so important, you need to be proactive when it comes to eye care. Select a qualified eye doctor who has the proper experience and training. This ensures they can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and the best treatment.
When you are ready to choose an eye doctor, be sure to consider several things. These include:
A solid set of verified credentials is a good sign a quality eye doctor has been found. Be sure the doctor has the appropriate training to treat, diagnose, and prevent various eye health problems.
Experience is also a crucial factor. Someone with more experience is going to be better equipped to detect eye diseases and to diagnose disorders because they have seen more patients.
Another benefit offered by going to an eye doctor with more experience is the assurance that they have maintained an ophthalmology or optometry practice. You should also find out if the doctor participates in medical education or research. If they do, they are going to be more knowledgeable about the latest diagnosing and techniques for treating eye health issues.
Selecting an eye doctor who can provide an array of services is helpful. However, you also need to consider the services you need and base your decision on that.
A doctor that provides fewer services may provide more specialization. Be sure to evaluate your needs to find an eye doctor who can treat them.
Word of mouth advertising is still the best and most effective way to find a service provider. Talk to people you know to find a quality eye doctor in your local area.
Once you have visited a doctor, think about the services they offered. Were you satisfied? Was the exam thorough?
By taking this approach, you can easily find a doctor that offers a high level of satisfaction with their care.
Finding the Best Eye Care Specialists for Your Needs
When it comes to your vision and eye health, you can’t leave things to chance. You need to make sure you find the right eye care professional for your needs.
By getting to know the different types of eye care specialists, you should have a good idea about the type of care provider you should find.
If you are looking for more information about health, be sure to read some of our other resources and blog posts. Our goal is to provide accurate and helpful information to ensure our readers receive the care they need and deserve.