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What Is An Opthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in eye health. People often assume that ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians are all “eye doctors” and basically the same thing. In reality there are many differences, both in education and the services that they provide.

Of the three types of eye care professionals, only ophthalmologists are medical doctors. They are the only ones who can perform surgery, and are qualified to assess overall health. The eyes are not isolated. They work in conjunction with the rest of the body and are affected by health issues throughout the body. Many vision and eye problems are secondary to other health problems. Ophthalmologists go to medical school, just like other doctors, and have an understanding of all of the body’s systems and how they relate to eye health. They are equipped to address eye problems as part of the whole, understand the underlying cause, and manage eye care from that perspective.

Optometrists are not medical doctors, but have a doctorate degree in optometry. They cannot perform surgery. They are not trained to understand whole body health to the extent that ophthalmologists are, but specialize solely in vision and the eyes. Optometrists and ophthalmologists sometimes work together in the same practice.

An optician fits patients for eyeglasses and sometimes contact lenses. They do not prescribe corrective lenses, but help patients choose frames and make sure the lenses fit properly in the frames. Some opticians actually mill the lenses, and some evaluate and measure patient’s eyes to fit contact lenses.

When choosing an eye care professional your best bet is to see an ophthalmologist first. An ophthalmologist will be able to thoroughly asses your vision and eye health, and can determine if your eyes are affected by other underlying health problems. If your ophthalmologist determines that you do not have any serious problems with your eyes, do not need any kind of eye-related surgery, and that your vision is not affected by illness elsewhere in the body, he or she may recommend that you see and optometrist for your regular check-ups.

Never assume that, just because you are not experiencing vision problems, you do not need to have a full assessment of your eye health. Many conditions of the eye can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness and have no early warning signs. Early detection is the key to preserving sight.

Only an ophthalmologist can perform eye surgery and effectively treat eye problems, which are secondary to other health conditions. Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can prescribe corrective lenses and medications for the eyes. Opticians provide a very valuable service, but they do not perform eye exams, diagnose conditions of the eye, or prescribe corrective lenses or medications.

If you are experiencing vision problems, have an illness which may affect your vision such as diabetes or cancer, or if you simply want a thorough and comprehensive eye exam, contact an ophthalmologist today. Dr. Khanna of the Khanna Institute of LASIK in Los Angeles, CA is an expert ophthalmologist.

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