Most people do not go to an eye doctor for regular examinations. Some may say that their eyes feel fine and they can see everything clearly, so why waste money getting a checkup? Others may not have the money for the fees that the doctor may charge.
In any case, it is important that you are aware of some of the signs that your eyes should be checked. There may be an underlying problem that only an eye doctor can detect.
Kinds of Eye Doctors
Before you pick up your phone to make a doctor’s appointment, take some time to ascertain which eye doctor you need to see and see what’s best for you.
- Optometrist: Optometrists are eye doctors whose work includes eyesight testing, eye checkups, diagnosing eye problems, managing changes in vision, and treating eye problems. They can also provide interventions such as visual rehabilitation as well as prescribe and dispense corrective lenses.
- Ophthalmologist: Ophthalmologists are eye doctors who can do eye checkups, diagnose eye problems, and even treat eye problems too — but they take their medical intervention one step further since they are legally allowed to do surgery on your eyes, when necessary. They also research eye conditions and disorders to identify cures and treatments.
- Opticians: An optician is trained to deal with devices that correct vision, including eyeglass lenses and frames, as well as contact lenses. Since they are not trained to diagnose or treat eye problems, they need the prescription of an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to fit you with the correct vision correction aids.
So if your eyes seem fine to you, but you haven’t seen an eye doctor in a long time (perhaps for years) then you may consult an optometrist to start with. If, however, you seem to detect a problem (such as cloudy vision), you may opt to see an optometrist first to have the cloudiness checked.
If the optometrist diagnoses the cloudiness as the development of cataracts, you may then be referred to an ophthalmologist who can check your cataracts and explain to you how cataracts can be removed through surgery.
Incidentally, if you live in Florida, you can have your cataract surgery at UCF Health. This example shows you that though optometrists are eye doctors, a doctor has to go through more training to do surgery on your eye as a licensed ophthalmologist.
Signs of Vision Problems
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms that can indicate when an eye checkup is in order.
- Blurry Vision – This is one of the most common signs of an eye disorder. In many cases, it can be treated by wearing the correct grade of eyeglasses.
- Headaches Near or Around the Eyes – This may indicate that you are straining your eyes to focus. The migraines may be preceded by some spots in your vision. This is common in people who are about 40 years old or more.
- Squinting to Focus – You need to have your eyes checked because you may need eyeglasses with the correct grade. If you are already wearing glasses, you may need to have the lens changed to one with the correct grade.
- Dry Eyes – This symptom is more common among women as they age, but more males are experiencing this due to lifestyle, work, or weather conditions.
- Difficulty Driving at Night – Farsighted individuals may find it more difficult to see at night when driving. This can be worsened by prolonged exposure to a computer screen. If you have been prescribed eyeglasses but you still find it hard to see at night, there may be a risk of cataracts.
- Family History – This is a crucial aspect of your eye health. A family history of any eye disorder or disease is indicative of a higher risk of developing those same conditions. However, since this is not a sure indicator, your best action is to have regular checkups to have an eye doctor identify any onset of eye problems.
It is always important to have regular eye exams even if your eyes seem to be functioning perfectly. An eye doctor has the medical training to detect the onset of certain eye disorders or diseases so that interventions can be prescribed well in advance.
Medical science has progressed to the point that many illnesses affecting the eyes can be addressed and treated promptly. Some eye conditions are easier to treat than others. If you suspect that something is wrong with your vision, it is best to consult your eye doctor right away.
I am in my mid-thirties and I generally have good vision. Though, I noticed that I am having some issues as the years go by. My eyes get itchy a lot these days and they’re becoming increasingly dry. I should really have this checked so I would know the things I should do to better care for my vision.