What is the difference between a dispensing optician, an optometrist, an orthoptist and an ophthalmologist?
An optometrist is the trained professional who is specifically trained to carry out full and comprehensive eye examinations. Optometrists examine eyes, test sight, give advice on visual problems and prescribe and dispense glasses or contact lenses. They may recommend special visual aids where appropriate. Optometrists are trained to recognize eye diseases, referring such cases to other specialists as necessary. Optometrists are university educated professionals, who study the exclusive field of optometry for at least three continuous academic years. After acquiring their university degree, optometrists in the UK are trained for at least one year under the supervision (pre- registration year) of a qualified optometrist either in high street practices or in the hospital eye service. They become qualified after succeeding in their professional qualified exams and this takes place after their year of training under supervision. In the UK, an optometrist is not allowed to see patients unsupervised until he becomes qualified.
Dispensing opticians are trained to fit and supply frames and lenses of glasses of each patient’s lifestyle and visual needs. They are also able to fit contact lenses after undergoing special training to do so.
An orthoptist mainly works in cooperation with ophthalmologists and are concerned with eye problems relating to eye movements such as squints. Muscle eye imbalances may result in the inability of the two eyes to work together resulting in problems like double vision (diplopia) or lazy eye (amblyopia).
An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor. Eye doctors diagnose and treat eye conditions. They might prescribe oral medication or drops, perform various treatments including laser treatments and eye injections. Most ophthalmologists are eye surgeons and that of course means that they perform eye operations for various eye conditions. Some ophthalmologists specialize in particular areas of the eye or specific eye conditions based on their training and experience. For instance some ophthalmologists specialize on conditions affecting the anterior part of the eye, as for example the cornea (corneal dystrophies/keratoconus),or the crystalline lens (cataract) while others specialize on conditions affecting the internal tissues of the eye such as the retina (diabetic retinopathy).
Yes. With increased levels of UV radiation reaching the earth’s surface, it is important to protect your eyes with sunglasses. UV radiation can damage the eye, affecting surface tissues and internal structures of the eye. Long term exposure to UV radiation has been proven to cause cataracts (the clouding of the crystalline lens which is present inside the eye), macular disorders (diseases that affect the internal/ retinal part of the eye responsible for central vision) and even eyelid cancers.
Floaters are very common and are normally harmless. They are more common if you are short-sighted or as you get older. But what are they.....? And most importantly when do we need to seek advice in relation to them?
Floaters are dark spots or strands that float in the jelly of the eye and are actually visible because as they float, they cast a shadow on the retina where our photosensitive cells are found. They appear as black or semi - transparent spots and may look like a hair, a ring or a strand which floats in front of the vision. If you have floaters you will notice that if you move your eye to look directly at a floater, it will move in the same direction.
According to the College of Optometrists (UK), you should seek medical advice promptly if you have any of the following symptoms in relation to 'floaters':
1) a sudden increase in' floaters', particularly if you also notice flashing lights
2) a new, large 'floater'
3) a change in 'floaters' or flashing lights after you have had a direct blow to your eye
4) a shadow spreading across the vision of one of your eyes.
The refraction part (measuring your vision levels and deciding the exact strength of your glasses) of a comprehensive eye exam is in fact only a small part of a full eye exam. Optometrists are trained to screen for eye diseases and to ensure that your eye health is excellent and make sure that your eye health is preserved for the following years to come. For this important reason we encourage you to read closely all the information provided in the eye exam page of this website.
In general adults are advised to have an eye exam at least every two years. In case of diseases like diabetes mellitus or glaucoma being present in your family history, an eye exam should be performed at least once a year.
All common vision problems can be corrected with either glasses or contact lenses even when different vision problems co-exist, like for example myopia and astigmatism or even myopia and presbyopia. It is however very important to remember that even experienced contact lens wearers are always encouraged to have a pair of corrective spectacles (with the recent numbers of their corrective error mounted in them), since it is essential for the eyes to ‘have a break’ from continuous contact lens wear.
Eyestrain is frequently described by patients as severe and can be caused by many reasons. An uncorrected refractive anomaly (myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism or presbyopia) is probably the main reason since fatigue results as the eye is not focusing properly when it is in it’s relaxed state. An eye muscle imbalance otherwise known as strabismus (eg. one eye turning inwards) which disturbs the cooperation of the two eyes at the brain level can be another cause of severe eye strain.
However eyestrain may be present even in the absence of an uncorrected refractive anomaly or a muscle imbalance. This can happen because of overusing the eye muscles for continuous close work or demanding and tedious close work on computer screens (including playing video games), tablets or smart phones.
Visual Acuity is the best possible vision that an eye can achieve when fully corrected with lenses in front of a letter chart. During your eye exam, you will be asked to read letters on distance and near reading charts. The result of the best possible vision achieved be each eye is written as a fraction such as 20/20 or otherwise known as 6/6.
The top number in the fraction is the standard distance at which testing is done, which is 20 feet, or otherwise 6 meters. The bottom number is the smallest letter size that you were able to read at the end of the refraction, with the final corrective power of lenses in front of the eye. The smaller the bottom number of the fraction, the more precise the vision of your eye, but in general a visual acuity of 20/20 or otherwise defined as 6/6, is universally considered to be excellent.
No. This is not true and if do not wear your glasses when your refractive error is clinically significant, your eyes will feel continuously tired and strained. Your eyes will not strengthen because you do not use the glasses. Furthermore it does not mean that your eyes will weaken further because you are using them.
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