Three kinds of eye specialists may perform an eye exam:
- Ophthalmologists. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who provide full eye care, such as giving you a complete eye exam, prescribing corrective lenses, diagnosing and treating complex eye diseases, and performing eye surgery.
- Optometrists. Optometrists provide many of the same services as ophthalmologists, such as evaluating your vision, prescribing corrective lenses, diagnosing common eye disorders and treating selected eye diseases with drugs. If you have a complex eye problem or need surgery, your doctor can refer you to an ophthalmologist.
- Opticians. Opticians fill prescriptions for eyeglasses, including assembling, fitting and selling them. Some opticians also sell contact lenses.
Which specialist you choose may be a matter of personal preference or will depend on the nature of your eye problem.
What you can expect from your doctor
If you're seeing a new eye doctor or if you're having your first eye exam, expect questions about your vision history. Your answers help your eye doctor understand your risk of eye disease and vision problems. Be prepared to give specific information, including:
- Are you having any eye problems now?
- Have you had any eye problems in the past?
- Were you born prematurely?
- Do you wear glasses or contacts now? If so, are you satisfied with them?
- What health problems have you had in recent years?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Do you have any allergies to medications, food or other substances?
- Have you ever had eye surgery?
- Does anyone in your family have eye problems, such as macular degeneration or glaucoma?
- Do you or does anyone in your family have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or any other health problems that can affect the whole body?
If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring them to your appointment. Your eye doctor will want to make sure your prescription is the best one for you. Also be prepared to remove your contacts or glasses during the exam. Tests that use dye (fluorescein) to temporarily color your eyes may permanently discolor your contact lenses, so you'll be asked to remove them for those tests.
If your eyes are dilated as a part of your eye exam, you may want to bring sunglasses to wear after your eye exam is complete, as daylight or other bright lights may be uncomfortable or cause blurred vision. Also, consider having someone else drive you home.