Read these 20 Ophthalmology Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about LASIK tips and hundreds of other topics.
Some common eye diseases include cataract, glaucoma and retinal disorders. Cataract is a condition in which the lens becomes cloudy and some symptoms may include blurry vision, poor night vision, double vision, glare and prescriptions which change rapidly. Glaucoma is damage to the optical nerve caused by pressure or fluid in the eye and is common in those over the age of 60, patients with a family history of the disease and African Americans over the age of 40. Retinal disorders are serious conditions which can cause permanent eye loss.
There are some situations in which eye surgery may be necessary for kids. Blocked tear ducts is just one example of a situation in which eye surgery may be necessary. In many cases, blocked tear ducts can be treated at home without surgical procedures. Simply massaging the tear duct with clean hands can help to correct the problem. However, if excess tearing continues for six to eight months or infections develop, it will likely become necessary for the child to undergo eye surgery to correct the problem. This is a simple procedure which is typically 85 percent to 95 percent successful for children under one year of age. However, the success rate decreases as the child ages.
Conjunctivitis is one of the common eye infections caused by the same bacteria and viruses which cause the common cold. Although there can be many causes for this condition, the treatment methods will vary based on the cause of the infection. Conjunctivitis caused by a virus will usually go away without intervention, while conjunctivitis caused by bacteria usually requires treatment with antibiotic drops. These drops typically must be inserted directly into the eye several times a day for a few days.
The treatment plan for conjunctivitis should also include a plan for preventing the spread of the infection. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can spread from one eye to the other, as well as to other family members. Washing hands thoroughly on a regular basis and not sharing items which touch the eyes can all help to prevent the spread of conjunctivitis.
Visual acuity is measured in terms of the smallest line a patient can read from an eye chart when standing twenty feet away from the chart. Eye exams typically include a testing to determine the patient's visual acuity without corrective eyewear, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses. A patient who is 20 feet away from the eye chart and able to read the 20 line on the chart has 20/20 vision. Patients who can only read the larger 40 line have 20/40 vision which is worse visual acuity, while someone who can read the smaller 10 line has 20/10 vision indicating better than average visual acuity.
Consider a patient with 20/200 vision. This means they were only able to read the 200 line on the eye chart. Additionally, it means a patient with normal vision would be able to read this same line from 200 feet away.
Those who are interested in pursuing a career in ophthalmology should have a firm understanding of the necessary requirements for working in this field. In addition to a four- year undergraduate degree, students must also complete four years of medical school, a one year internship and three or more years of specialized training.
There will also be specific expectations on the students in pursuit of a degree. This may include, but is not limited to, classes covering ocular anatomy, embryology, neurophthalmic anatomy and physiology during the first two years of medical school. In the last two years of medical school, students are encouraged to participate in elective courses relevant to their intended area of expertise in an effort to prepare the student for a career in ophthalmology.
An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor who specializes in the care of the eyes including prevention of diseases. These doctors complete an extensive educational program which includes a four-year undergraduate program, four years of medical school, a one year internship and three or more years of specialized training relevant to the doctor's area of expertise.
Ophthalmologists may hold the title of either doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathy (DO). Regardless of the title the ophthalmologist holds, he should be well qualified to care for all aspects of the health of the visual system. This may include, but is not limited to, eye examinations, surgical care, treatment and prevention of diseases and treatment of visual problems caused by medical conditions unrelated to the eye.
Diabetes--no one likes to think about it, but it can affect your eyesight. That's why, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Medicare and the EyeCare America Diabetic Eye Exam Initiative help ophthalmology patients. If you're a Medicare beneficiary, you can have:
* an exam by a local ophthalmologist
* up to one year of covered eye care with no out-of-pocket cost
People with diabetes need to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year. But, you think, diabetes will squash your prospects for laser eye surgery.
Not so. In fact, people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus are generally excluded from treatment, but you can have laser eye surgery as a diabetic if your eye prescription is stable for at least one year and you are not taking any medication to control your blood sugar.
You may not like to think about diabetes, but now is the time to do something about it through ophthalmology, when you're young enough to stop vision problems before they worsen.
VISX, Zyoptix and LADARVision are attractive to you if you want a more accurate, custom picture of your eye that achieves excellent results. The question is, will your ophthalmologist recommend one over the other? Does clinical ophthalmology prefer, for example, VISX to LADARVision?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology publishes clinical ophthalmology studies on their Web site, as recent as September 2005, that demonstrate custom wavefront-guided LASIK ablations and their results as compared to conventional LASIK. However, the AAO stops short of recommending one technology over another.
The decision of which technology to use is ultimately up to your ophthalmologist, who will use whatever technology he feels will give you the best results, but may offer both VISX and LADARVision, for example.
In your list of questions to ask your ophthalmologist, ask about success rates with the various technologies and the advantages and disadvantages. And remember, the diagnostic technology is only as good as the ophthalmologist who uses it, so choose your ophthalmologist first, then the technology.
Your family care physician or internal medicine (or alternative medicine) specialist gives you guidelines: exercise, eat right, and so on. It's no surprise that clinical ophthalmology has words of medical wisdom, too.
If your ophthalmologist will perform LASIK, EpiLASIK, LASEK, PRK, or custom LASIK on you, she will probably give you some advice to better the your outcome. The American Academy of Opthalmology Web site points you to "Basik Lasik," a brochure produced by the FTC and the AAO.
"Basik Lasik," available at www.ftc.gov, advises that you:
* Not take Accutane or oral prednisone
* For myopia patients: Postpone LASIK until your myopic refraction has stabilized in your mid to late 20s
* Be in good general health, and discuss any diabetes, high blood pressure and other medical conditions with your opthalmologist
* Not be pregnant or breastfeeding since hormone changes can affect the outcome
Also, other risk factors such as smoking can affect LASIK results, so you have an excellent reason to follow your regular physician's admonitions. Besides, you want to get rid of your glasses and don't want to be out of breath when you're boogie boarding.
There are questions you may want to ask your ophthalmologist before you choose him/her to treat you. These are important questions that you should know the answers to. Screen your choices carefully before choosing.
-Have you ever had your license to practice revoked or suspended? The answer should be no.
-Have you ever had your hospital or surgical privileges revoked? Again, the answer should be no.
-Have you ever been convicted of a felony? The answer should be no.
-Have you ever been treated for alcohol or substance abuse or mental illness as an adult? The answer should be no.
-Is your laser and equipment FDA (food and drug administration) approved? All equipment should be FDA approved.
-Have you ever had malpractice insurance coverage denied to you? The answer should be no.
-How long have you been practicing? Five years or longer shows experience. However, this is not to say that there aren't very good ophthalmologists fresh out of medical school.
The above are tough questions, but if you truly want to screen your ophthalmologist, these are good ones to ask.
Another suggestion when searching for an experienced ophthalmologist is to look to the American College of Surgeons. The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that began in 1913. It was founded to improve the quality care of patients by setting high standards for surgeons.
Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as "Fellows". The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name means the following about that surgeon: he or she has passed a rigorous evaluation and their training, education, qualifications, competence, and ethics are of the highest standard that have been established by the American College of Surgeons.
If you are searching for a an eye surgeon and want one you know is experienced or extremely qualified, look for FACS after his name.
When searching for an ophthalmologist, remember to talk to several before deciding on the right one for you. The following is a list resources for you to utilize in your search:
-Ask family members and friends who they use, or request a name from your physician.
-Ask your insurance company, as they may specific ophthalmologists that you are required to see.
-Contact your state or county association of ophthalmologists. They may have a list of ophthalmologists and their experience along with specialties.
-The American Academy of Ophthalmology has an online find an MD site. This will help you find doctors in your state. http://www.aao.org/eyemd_disclaimer.cfm
-The International Society of Refractive Surgery has a comprehensive list of ophthalmologists who perform refractive eye surgery. http://www.locateanisrsdoctor.com/
-Administrators in Medicine and the Association of State Medical Board Executive Directors has a webpage where you can look up any information on malpractice suits brought towards doctors. http://www.docboard.org/
-It is always a good idea to speak with several doctors and visit their offices before making a final decision.
If you wear glasses or contacts and are considering discussing laser eye surgery with your ophthalmologist, your eye exams need to be current. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology Web site, www.aao.org, if you have no vision problems diagnosed by clinical ophthalmology and you don't wear glasses, you should stick to a regular eye exam schedule:
1) At least once when you're in your twenties
2) At least twice when you're in your thirties
3) Every two to four years when you're in the 40 (presbyopia appears) to 64 age range
4) After age 65, every one to two years
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that if you wear glasses or have eye problems, you should schedule more frequent exams--once a year if you're at high risk for vision problems, for example if you're African-American, have diabetes, or have had previous eye injury. These annual exams should be dilated-eye exams.
If you choose laser surgery, your eye exam history will help your ophthalmologist determine which surgery is right for you.
True or false: Laser eye surgery is so advanced you don't need an ophthalmologist to heal your vision.
False. While consumers may be confused about the difference between clinical ophthalmology and optometry, the Academy of American Ophthalmology Web site says that consumers want a medical doctor certified and licensed in ophthalmology to wield a laser or microkeratome blade.
The National Consumers League survey of 600 adults reports that:
* 85.6 percent prefer the eye-care provider performing eye surgery to have a medical degree.
* 90.5 percent say that only a skilled, licensed ophthalmologist should perform surgery.
* 77 percent say that it's not acceptable for anyone without a degree in clinical ophthalmology to perform eye surgery.
* Respondents agree with the typical eye surgeon's Web site that laser vision correction procedures are surgical procedures.
The bottom line: Not only should the public have a skilled, licensed, certified medical doctor, an ophthalmologist, aim that femtosecond laser at eyes with astigmatism, the public wants a medical doctor in charge of laser eye surgery.
While you may have questions about the eye surgery procedures, you know that you want a professional with the latest information and the necessary care and skill to correct your vision. Don't settle for less.
You may have heard about a 2003 case at a Veterans' Affairs hospital in Kansas in which an optometrist was granted privileges to perform laser eye surgery. Remember, an optometrist typically does not perform laser eye surgery.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in 2004 the Department of Veterans Affairs responded to calls for patient safety from professionals licensed and trained in clinical ophthalmology and laser eye surgery, as well as from associations such as the American Medical Association, American College of Surgeons, the American Osteopathic Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons. The VA revoked optometrists' privileges to perform laser eye surgery.
If an optometrist tells you he or she has hospital privileges to conduct laser eye surgery treatments, opt for an ophthalmologist's care instead. Therapeutic laser surgery, which is complex and delicate, should only be performed by a qualified ophthalmologist. Our country's respected veterans and its civilians deserve the best care from a qualified doctor certified in clinical ophthalmology.
Your ophthalmologist should be board certified in clinical ophthalmology by the American Board of Ophthalmology, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology Web site.
A listing of "board certified" on an ophthalmologist's Web site or a certificate on his wall gives you added reassurance that you're in good hands--especially since the American Board of Ophthalmology is the oldest specialty board in America, founded in 1917.
The board certification process involves a rigorous two-part exam, affirming that your ophthalmologist is:
* trained in how to treat chronic and acute eye diseases in a clinical environment
* experienced in follow-up treatment of eye problems such as diabetic retinopathy
* trained in sub-specialties such as pediatric ophthalmology or cornea and external disease, for example
* licensed to perform refractive surgery (a sub-specialty)
* able to prescribe contacts (which you want to get rid of)
Not all ophthalmology specialists are board certified and board certification isn't required to practice ophthalmology. However, board certification protects you, the refractive surgery patient, so you need to check with the American Board of Ophthalmology or check the credentials on your ophthalmologist's Web site. Look for "board certified" first. As of 2006, all ophthalmologists who are board certified must also pass the American Board of Physician Specialties recertification process.
It is always important to check a surgeon's credentials before choosing him/her to perform surgery on your eyes. You may want to research the following information about your surgeon:
Use the Liaison Committee on Medical Education at http://www.lcme.org/ to verify that the medical school your surgeon attended and graduated from is an accredited university. If your surgeon also participates in medical associations, don't hesitate to contact each association to verify that he is a member.
You should also confirm that your surgeon is indeed licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery in your specific state. Contact your state's Medical Licensing Board by looking in the government section of your phonebook for the number.
Never hesitate to check your surgeon's credentials. You should always ask each surgeon you visit with for a list of his or hers.
It is important when looking for an eye care specialist that you find the right kind of specialist for your specific eye need(s). Not all types of eye doctors are allowed to perform eye surgeries and not all eye specialists are considered doctors. This list should help clear up any confusion over what type of eye doctor you are looking for.
Ophthalmologist: This type of eye doctor specializes in surgical care of your eyes. If you are looking for laser eye surgery, this is the type of eye doctor you should talk to. They also treat and care for diseases of the eye. In addition to undergraduate school, an ophthalmologist has attended four years of medical school, one year of an internship and three or more years of specialized medical and surgical training in the care of eyes.
Optometrists: An optometrist is an eye doctor who will provide you with complete care of your eye needs, such as glasses, contacts, and eye exams. Typically, an optometrist will recommend you to an ophthalmologist for laser eye surgery. Optometrists do not attend medical school, however they do attend undergraduate school and then four years of training at an accredited college of optometry.
Opticians: Opticians manufacture and customize your glasses or contact lenses to fill prescriptions written by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Opticians typically have a two-year technical degree.
Orthoptists: An orthoptist work with patients who have problems with crossed eyes.
Ocularists: Ocularists will make and fit artificial eyes for people.
You may have received a referral from your optometrist to an ophthalmologist. Your optometrist examined your eyes and thought you would be a good candidate for laser eye surgery. Now your ophthalmologist tells you he needs to do a comprehensive eye exam to treat your eyes. Why? Shouldn't the first exam tell him everything he needs to know?
While clinical ophthalmology looks at the exam results provided by your optometrist, your ophthalmologist has more specialized equipment and will perform more detailed tests to get an accurate picture of your visual acuity and your vision abberations. Your ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and the chief expert of your eye care team.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology Web site recommends that your ophthalmologist perform certain tests to improve your surgery results, such as:
* slit-lamp tests, to look into the back of the eye for retinal problems, possibly with fluorescein staining to detect whether you need LASIK or PRK
* measuring corneas to reduce the risk of buttonhole flaps
* a refractor to determine your eye prescription
* a tonometer to measure intraocular or inside-the-eye pressure — a too-high reading may be an early symptom of glaucoma
* tests for dry-eyes so your ophthalmologist can treat and cure before you have laser surgery
This isn't a comprehensive list of the ophthalmology eye exam, which goes into greater depth than the optometrist's exam if you are considering surgery.
Optometrists provide routine eye exams to detect common vision problems, also to determine color and depth perception, while ophthalmologists detect and treat vision problems with surgery or implants. Make no mistake, both are vital to your eye care team before, during and after surgery.
Patients with eye injuries should be seen by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible to help to avoid permanent damage which may result from failure to properly treat the injury quickly and effectively. While seeking professional treatment is very important in the event of an eye injury, the following are a few useful tips for those who suffer from an eye injury and are not able to get to an ophthalmologist immediately:
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|