Ophthalmologist, ophthalmologist and optometrist – what’s the difference?

Ophthalmologist, ophthalmologist and optometrist – what’s the difference?

Vision deteriorated, eyes get tired and hurt. Looks like it’s time to visit the optometrist. Or an ophthalmologist? How right?

There is no need to choose between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. The correct answer is both are correct. Doctors who are engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the organs of vision can be called this way and that. The word “oculist” is derived from the Latin oculus , and “ophthalmologist” is derived from the ancient Greek ophtalmos . Both words mean “eye”, just in different languages.

In Soviet times, namely before 1981, there really was a difference between oculists and ophthalmologists. Previously, ophthalmologists were engaged in therapeutic practice and conservative treatment, while ophthalmologists specialized in surgery. Later, this division was abandoned, and doctors were more often called ophthalmologists. Similarly, today almost no one calls neurologists neuropathologists (except for the older generation, who do it out of habit).

Who is an ophthalmologist? What diseases do they treat him with?

An ophthalmologist and ophthalmologist deals with the treatment of eye diseases. These may be consequences of other disorders in the body, age-related changes, bacterial or viral infections, and pathologies that affect visual acuity. He can also perform surgical treatment. A doctor who specializes in surgical treatment is called an ophthalmic surgeon .

It is quite difficult to list all the diseases that an ophthalmologist (oculist) treats, because there are literally hundreds of them. The most common pathologies are:

  • Inflammatory processes (barley, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, keratitis, iridocyclitis);
  • Visual disturbances (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism);
  • Blindness (including temporary);
  • Retinal detachment, macular degeneration;
  • Inflammation of the optic nerve;
  • Increased intraocular pressure ( ophthalmotonus );
  • Glaucoma, cataract;
  • Eye injury.

What symptoms indicate that you need to undergo a preventive examination by an ophthalmologist, ophthalmologist or optometrist ?

  • Decreased visual acuity;
  • Atypical profuse lacrimation ;
  • Hemorrhages, burst capillaries;
  • Clouding of the natural or artificial lens;
  • Discomfort (stinging, pain, burning, itching, feeling of sand in the eyes);
  • Narrowing of peripheral vision;
  • double vision;
  • Spots, flies, veil, iridescent circles before the eyes;
  • Frequent swelling of the eyelids;
  • Redness and suppuration;
  • Increased fatigue, eye strain.

A preventive examination by an ophthalmologist should be carried out at least once a year, even in the absence of unpleasant symptoms. If you wear glasses, you need to monitor the dynamics and control visual acuity, change lenses in time. Patients who have undergone eye surgery or have serious chronic diseases go to the ophthalmologist more often – once every 3-6 months. It is also important to take preventive measures:

  • Children of preschool and school age – to control the correct development of the visual analyzer, timely detection and correction of vision problems;
  • Athletes;
  • People with neurological diseases;
  • Pregnant women, as well as when planning a pregnancy;
  • Those who work or spend a lot of time at the computer;
  • People over 35, because many age-related pathologies are getting younger;
  • Patients with unfavorable heredity.

What does an ophthalmological examination include?

  • Visiometry – the usual vision test according to the table;
  • Biomicroscopy for suspected inflammation of the conjunctiva, cornea or iris;
  • Computer refractometry, keratometry , keratotopography to assess refractive errors;
  • Ophthalmoscopy – examination of the fundus.

In some cases, ophthalmologists may refer patients for further examination to other doctors. So, the treatment of diabetic retinopathy or exophthalmos – complications of an endocrine disease – will be carried out together with an endocrinologist. If visual impairment is caused by the occurrence of a neoplasm, consultation with an oncologist or neurosurgeon will be required. Diseases of the optic nerve, such as neuritis or atrophy, are diagnosed and treated together with a neurologist. In other words, therapy depends on the root cause, which sometimes lies in the pathologies of the internal organs.

What does an optometrist do?

Optometry is a narrow branch of ophthalmology dealing with visual acuity or refraction disorders. The main task of an optometrist is not to treat, but to examine and correct. An optometrist is not a doctor, but a specialist in the selection of spectacle or contact correction for myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. He can diagnose vision, as well as provide first aid, for example, in case of burns or a foreign body in the eye. It is important to emphasize that medical opinions and treatment recommendations are not the responsibility of an optometrist . To resolve these issues, he can only refer to an ophthalmologist or other doctor.

As far as an optician is concerned, it is not the same as an optometrist . He has no medical training and is engaged in the manufacture of prescription lenses.

So, the optometrist :

  • Identifies the nature and degree of visual impairment with the help of devices, instruments and tables;
  • Sets the exact visual acuity, selects glasses or lenses and writes a prescription for them.
  • May refer to an appropriate specialist for further investigation of vision problems.

Both an ophthalmologist and an optometrist can tell you which prescription glasses or contact lens options are right for your eyes. People who have not worn lenses before often decide to fit them themselves – we do not recommend this. Why?

Firstly, lenses with inappropriate geometric parameters – the radius of curvature (roughly speaking, bulge) can either fall out of the eyes or stick strongly to them, creating discomfort and not fulfilling their function;

Secondly, since the last check, your vision may have changed, this is very important to consider.

It’s better not to risk it: sign up for a loyalty program, choose an optical shop from the list in your city to get a free vision test and lens fitting.

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