When was the last time you went to the eye doctor? You should regularly see your eye doctor to ensure your eyes are healthy.
If you have refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, you’ll need to see your eye doctor more. Having refractive errors makes it necessary to use visual aids like glasses and contact lenses to see clearly.
However, if you don’t have refractive errors, you might think that seeing your eye doctor isn’t necessary and that your eyes are healthy. But that’s not always the case.
Keep reading to learn 7 reasons that you need to see your ophthalmologist!
How is an Ophthalmologist Different from an Optometrist?
You may not always see an ophthalmologist when you visit the eye doctor. When you see an eye doctor because you think you need glasses or contact lenses, you may see an optometrist.
Optometrists have an optometry degree and can examine your vision to assess your visual acuity and prescribe lenses. They can also screen you for certain eye conditions. However, they aren’t able to diagnose or administer treatment for eye conditions.
Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, have completed medical school and have a medical degree. Like optometrists, they can assess your visual acuity, but they also specialize in diagnosing and treating all kinds of eye diseases and conditions.
They also can perform eye procedures like LASIK, PRK, and cataract surgery. Optometrists are an excellent choice if you need to have your prescription checked and to check your eyes for any signs of potential eye conditions.
However, ophthalmologists can thoroughly test and treat various diseases and conditions. Anyone can see an ophthalmologist for routine eye care, but you may need to see an ophthalmologist rather than an optometrist for several reasons, including:
1. To Assess Your Risk for Eye Conditions
Eye conditions are highly prevalent, especially as you get older. Many things can affect your risk of developing eye conditions.
Knowing your risk is essential, as many common eye conditions like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy cause irreversible vision loss. They also usually don’t have any symptoms in their early stages.
The only way to detect these eye conditions in their early stages and receive effective treatment is to have your eyes examined by an eye doctor. Your ophthalmologist can help assess your risk for various eye conditions by examining your eyes to ensure they are healthy.
Many factors affect your risk for eye conditions, including family medical history and ethnicity. But perhaps the most significant risk factor is age.
Just being over 40 puts you at higher risk for several eye conditions. The older you get, the higher your risk becomes.
2. For Regular Eye Exams If You’re at Risk for Eye Conditions
If your ophthalmologist determines you are at high risk for eye conditions disease, it’s best to go to them for regular check-ups. This is especially important for patients with diabetes and patients who are over 55.
Not only will seeing an ophthalmologist help you detect any eye conditions in their early stages, but it’ll also help you receive immediate treatment. If an optometrist spots any potential sign of eye conditions, they’ll have to refer you to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment.
Seeing an ophthalmologist regularly cuts out the middleman and allows you to get more thorough care.
3. For Cataract Surgery
Optometrists can determine if you have cataracts, but only an ophthalmologist can treat cataracts. This is because the only treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery.
If you have cataracts that have begun to affect your quality of life, you should see your ophthalmologist to discuss the possibility of having cataract surgery.
4. For a Vision Correction Procedure
If you want a vision correction procedure like LASIK, the next step is seeing your ophthalmologist. They’ll be able to evaluate if you’re a good candidate for the procedure.
Not everyone will qualify for procedures like LASIK, so they may recommend an alternative procedure like PRK. Setting up a LASIK consultation ensures that you understand what to expect from LASIK every step of the way.
5. For a Cosmetic Procedure
Oculoplastics is a specialization within ophthalmology that concerns cosmetic procedures performed around the eyes. If you have droopy eyelids or think you look too tired due to saggy, droopy bags, see your ophthalmologist about a procedure like blepharoplasty.
Blepharoplasty is an excellent way to help you look younger and more awake. It can also help you see better if your drooping upper eyelids block your vision.
6. If Your Eyes Are Always Dry
If you have dry eyes, you may notice that they feel inflamed, gritty, dry, or like there’s something in them when there’s nothing there. If you have these symptoms and they don’t go away on their own or by changing your environment, it could be because you have a condition called dry eye syndrome.
Your ophthalmologist can help you get the relief you need by diagnosing dry eye syndrome and recommending treatment. Treatment for dry eye syndrome is crucial because left untreated, it could lead to vision loss or corneal abrasions.
7. If You Experience Sudden Visual Changes
If you experience any vision changes over a short period, you should see an ophthalmologist. Sudden changes in vision, like the appearance of floaters, flashes of light, and sudden blurriness, are often due to serious eye problems.
Retinal tears and detachments are some problems you may face, often requiring immediate medical treatment. If you experience very sudden visual changes that happen in minutes or seconds, you may even need to seek emergency medical treatment.
If your vision is in danger, emergency room doctors will refer you or transfer you to an ophthalmologist for treatment.
Do you think you should be seeing an ophthalmologist? Schedule an appointment at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, to prioritize your eyes and vision!