Three kinds of eye specialists, each with different training and experience, can provide routine eye care and fill prescriptions:
- Ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree who provides full eye care, including performing complete eye evaluations, prescribing corrective lenses, diagnosing and treating common and complex eye disorders, and performing eye surgery when it's necessary.
- Optometrists. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists are trained to evaluate vision, prescribe corrective lenses and diagnose common eye disorders.
- Opticians. An optician is a professional who fills prescriptions for eyeglasses — assembling, fitting and selling them. In some states, opticians may also sell and fit contact lenses.
No matter which type of eye specialist you choose, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- If you already wear glasses, bring them with you to your appointment. Your doctor has a device that tells him or her what type of prescription you have now. If you wear contacts, bring an empty contact lens box from each type of contact you use.
- List any symptoms you're experiencing, such as trouble reading up close or difficulty with night driving.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you're taking.
- List questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For farsightedness, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- When do I need to use corrective lenses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to glasses?
- What are benefits and drawbacks to contacts?
- How often do you recommend that I have my eyes examined?
- Are more permanent treatments, such as eye surgery, an option for me?
- What types of side effects are possible from eye surgery?
- Will my insurance company pay for the cost of eye surgery?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
- What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
April 09, 2015
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- Does your vision improve if you squint or move objects closer (or farther) away?
- Do others in your family use corrective lenses? Do you know how old they were when they first began having trouble with their vision?
- When did you first begin wearing glasses or contacts?
- Do you have any serious medical problems, such as diabetes?
- Have you started to take any new medications, supplements or herbal preparations?
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- Preferred practice patterns: Refractive errors and refractive surgery. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/preferred-practice-pattern/refractive-errors--surgery-ppp-2013. Accessed March 17, 2015.
- Overview of refractive error. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye_disorders/refractive_error/overview_of_refractive_error.html?qt=refractive error&alt=sh. Accessed March 17, 2015.
- Frequency of ocular examinations - 2015. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/clinical-statement/frequency-of-ocular-examinations--november-2009. Accessed March 17, 2015.
- What is an ophthalmologist? American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/living/what-is-an-ophthalmologist.cfm. Accessed March 17, 2015.
- Eye health tips. National Eye Institute. https://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/eyehealthtips. Accessed March 17, 2015.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 28, 2015.