Three kinds of eye specialists, each with different training and experience, can provide routine eye care:
- 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. This care includes 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 conditions.
- Opticians. An optician is an eye specialist who fills prescriptions for eyeglasses — assembling, fitting and selling them. In some states, opticians are also allowed to 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 what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- If you already have glasses, bring them with you to your appointment. Your doctor has a special device that helps to determine what type of prescription you already have. If you wear contacts, bring an empty contact lens box — or a box from each type of contact you use if you wear a different strength contact lens in each eye — to your appointment.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, such as trouble reading up close or difficulty with night driving.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your visit. For nearsightedness, some basic questions to ask 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?
- If so, which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects are possible from these treatments?
- Will my insurance company pay for surgical procedures or a contact lens fitting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask:
Mar. 03, 2012
- When did you first begin experiencing 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 medical problems, such as diabetes?
- Have you started to take any new medications, supplements or herbal preparations?
- Preferred practice patterns: Refractive errors and refractive surgery. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/PPP_Content.aspx?cid=e6930284-2c41-48d5-afd2-631dec586286. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011.
- Facts about myopia. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/errors/myopia.asp#7. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Myopia (nearsightedness) American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/myopia.xml. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011.
- Refractive error. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/eye_disorders/refractive_error/overview_of_refractive_error.html. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011.
- Frequency of ocular examinations. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/CE/PracticeGuidelines/ClinicalStatements_Content.aspx?cid=810eaf61-181e-41c8-a0e8-e1d122efe5a4. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011.
- Mian SI. Visual impairment in adults: Refractive disorders and presbyopia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Opticians, dispensing. U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos098.htm. Accessed Dec. 20, 2011.
- Eye health tips. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/healthyeyes/eyehealthtips.asp. Accessed Dec. 21, 2011.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 29, 2011.