March 23rd is World Optometry Day, an excellent time to get to know your Optometrist. Question 1: What do you know about your Optometrist? Do you know what they do? Question 2: When was the last time you saw yours? Question 3…Wait! Why don’t we work on questions one and two first, and that sneaky Question 1.5 I snuck in the middle.
What is an Optometrist?
Optometrists are primary health care providers specializing in vision and eye health. They provide eye examinations and prescribe glasses or contact lenses. They can also detect and treat eye conditions such as Glaucoma, Cataracts, Dry Eye Syndrome, etc. They prescribe eye medications, or Vision Therapy, depending on what is required to correct the vision problem. Optometrists can also refer patients to other medical service providers as needed.
Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Optician
There are three main areas of Eye Care that you should know about and it is very important to understand the differences between them. Your Optometrist is your primary health care provider, much like your General Practitioner of Eye Care. They are your first line of defense, who you see when you need an eye exam or when you feel that something may not be quite right with your vision. An Ophthalmologist is a second level health care provider; as specialist, if you will. Your Optometrist may send you to an Ophthalmologist for specialized eye treatment or surgery if they feel it is necessary to return you to optimal vision. An Optician’s specialty is to make sure that you are fitted with the appropriate glasses, based on the prescription provided by your Optometrist and also on their experience with what will look and feel right on each individual client. They are also trained in creating the appropriate lenses for each prescription and size of glasses.
Eye Examination vs Vision Test
Although the vision screening your child may get at school or the vision tests they have in some pharmacies, may serve a useful purpose in detecting some basic sight problems, they are no replacement for a regular eye exam. Where those vision tests merely test your eye’s ability to read numbers and letters on a chart, a comprehensive eye exam looks for reaction speed, peripheral vision and much more. A regular eye exam may also pick up early signs of glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and many more eye conditions in time to prevent serious damage to your vision. As a general rule children’s eyes should be tested at six months, at age three, and again before they begin school. Between the ages of six and 19, they should get their eyes tested annually. Adults up until the age of 40 should get their eyes tested at least every two to three years. Those over 40 should get in every one to two years, and those over 65, should see their optometrist every 12 months.
Say Thank You to Your Optometrist this March 23
So remember to say thank you to your Optometrist on March 23rd. If you haven’t seen him in quite some time, maybe now would be a good time to schedule a visit. Your eyes will thank you.