Eye Care Frequently Asked Questions
What is an eye doctor?
There are two main areas of specialty for eye doctors: ophthalmology and optometry. Both ophthalmologists and optometrists perform routine eye care, but only ophthalmologists perform eye surgery. Often, both types of specialists will work together to provide you with the care you need.
There are several conditions both ophthalmologists and optometrists can help treat, including:
- cataracts, which is a condition in which cloudy patches develop in your eyes and cause vision loss or blindness
- myopia, which is a condition that makes it hard to focus on distant objects and is also known as nearsightedness
- glaucoma, which is a condition where your optic nerve becomes damaged, causing blindness
- diabetic retinopathy and other retinal disorders that cause blurred vision and vision loss, including retinal detachment
- diabetes and other nerve diseases that attack your nerves and lead to conditions like glaucoma, vision loss, and blindness
Optometrists will perform many of your routine eye care procedures, including:
- annual eye exams, which includes eye health education
- diagnosis of eye conditions, such as an astigmatism
- laser eye surgery, foreign object removal, and other minor eye surgeries
- post-surgery eye care
- prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses
Ophthalmologists will perform all of the same routine eye care procedures as an optometrist. In addition, they can also perform major eye surgeries, including:
Several signs indicate that you may need to contact an ophthalmologist, including:
- seeing spots or random flashes of light
- seeing streaks of light or other distortions in your vision
- sudden eye pain, or an itching or burning sensation
- sudden loss of vision or blindness in one or both eyes
You should go to an ophthalmologist immediately if you have an infection of your eye, an eye injury, or if you need a foreign object removed from your eye.