What is an ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists are specialists who work in the medical and surgical care of the eyes. They can either be Doctors of Medicine (MD) or Orthopedic Doctors (DO). They provide complete eye care, such as vision services, eye exams, medical and surgical care, diagnose and treat diseases, and manage complications from other conditions, such as diabetes.
When to see an ophthalmologist?
Most people see an ophthalmologist because they have chronic or severe vision symptoms or signs of eye diseases, such as:
- Swollen eyes
- Decreased, distorted, blocked, or double vision
- Excessive tearing
- Eyelid abnormalities or problems
- Seeing colored circles or halos around lights
- Deviated eyes
- Black spots or chains called floaters in the field of vision
- See flashes of light
- Unexplained redness of the eye
- Loss of peripheral vision
An individual may require crisis care from an ophthalmologist if their side effects include:
- Sudden loss or changes in vision
- Sudden or severe eye pain
- Eye injury
A person may also receive a referral to an ophthalmologist if they have conditions or factors that can increase the risk of developing eye diseases, such as:
- High blood pressure
- A family history of eye diseases
- Human immunodeficiency virus
- Thyroid diseases, such as Graves’ disease
Usually, the family doctor, paediatrician, emergency room doctor, or optometrist will refer a person to an ophthalmologist. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people undergo a complete medical examination of their eyes by age 40 so that an ophthalmologist can establish a basic profile of their eye health.
Having a baseline of eye health is important because it makes it easier for doctors to detect or track eye or vision changes, which are often subtle and difficult to detect. Even healthy people can suddenly develop severe eye diseases.
What conditions can ophthalmologists treat?
People are referred to an ophthalmologist when they have it:
- Partial or complete loss of vision
- Eye injuries, pain, or infections
- Eye diseases, such as glaucoma
- Health conditions that can affect their eyes, including diabetes and high blood pressure
- Visual impairment that requires specialized care
Ophthalmologists are surgeons and can do this:
- Cataract surgery, in which the lens of a person’s eye is replaced
- Refractive surgery or laser, which involves reshaping the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism
- Surgery to correct deviated eyes or strabismus
- Surgery to remove cancers, such as melanoma, from the eye
- Treatment to repair the damage caused by an injury to the eye
What procedures do they do?
Most ophthalmologists are prepared and ensured to play out a wide scope of medical and surgical procedures. The procedures that an ophthalmologist performs regularly depend on several factors, such as the type of practice and the speciality they work in.
Some of the most common daily procedures performed by an ophthalmologist include diagnosing and monitoring eye conditions and mild vision. They will also spend time prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.
Ophthalmologists who specialize in subspecialties tend to perform a smaller set of procedures daily, focusing instead on treating one or a few related conditions.
It usually includes procedures performed by subspecialists:
- Diagnose and monitor moderate to severe eye conditions.
- Cataract surgery
- Glaucoma surgery
- Refractive surgery to correct vision
- Cancer treatment
- Reconstructive surgery to repair trauma or birth defects, such as crossed eyes.
- Chronic or severe tear duct infections or obstruction
- Tumor removal (tumor, cyst, or foreign body)
- Monitoring or counselling in cases related to other conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy or immune diseases
- Injections around the eyes and face to change the function and shape of the face.
- Repairing a torn or detached retina
- Corneal transplant