You may encounter three kinds of specialists as you seek help for various eye conditions:
- Ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is an eye specialist with a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or a 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.
- Optometrist. An optometrist has a doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists are trained to evaluate vision, prescribe corrective lenses and diagnose common eye conditions.
- Optician. An optician is a specialist who helps fit people for eyeglasses or contact lenses, following prescriptions from ophthalmologists and optometrists. Some states require opticians to be licensed. Opticians are not trained to diagnose or treat eye disease.
No matter which type of eye specialist you choose, here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
- If you already wear glasses, bring them with you to your appointment. Your doctor has a device that helps to determine what type of prescription you already have. If you wear contacts, bring to your appointment 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 or supplements that you're taking.
- List 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?
- Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask:
March 04, 2015
- 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 glasses or contacts? 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?
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- Myopia (adult and pediatric). AskMayoExpert. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
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- Nearsightedness. American Academy of Opthalmology. http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/myopia-nearsightedness/index.cfm. Accessed Jan. 19, 2015.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Surgery to improve your vision: PRK and LASIK. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2008.
- Myopia (Nearsightedness). American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/myopia?sso=y. Accessed Jan. 20, 2015.
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