Choosing a vision care provider is as important as choosing your doctor or dentist, and should be done every bit as selectively.

To begin with, a distinction needs to be made between an ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician. Of these three, only an ophthalmologist is a certified medical doctor who specializes in vision care.

Ophthalmologists have received training significantly above and beyond optometrists and opticians and are the only eye care professionals licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery.

For this reason, when seeking the highest level of eye care available, an ophthalmologist is the clear choice. Should your vision exam indicate the need for advanced intervention, they will be the most qualified to deliver it.

Rather than going “blind” into a Google search, a good place to start when looking for an ophthalmologist is to consult your family doctor, friends and family, and even your social media “communities” for recommendations.

Ideally, ask at least three people for recommendations. There are two reasons for this: First, this allows you to independently research recommendations for yourself to see how other patients feel about each ophthalmologist, aiding you in a comparative analysis. Second, if you receive the same recommendation from multiple people, chances are you’re already hot on the trail of a great eye doctor. 

When researching an ophthalmologist, consult Healthgrades.com or some other healthcare review site to confirm board certification as evidence of training, skills, and experience. Board certification is so critical you should eliminate from your consideration any doctor who lacks it.

Look too on these sites for background information on medical school(s) at which an opthamologist has studied, at which hospitals they have trained, and whether they have received sub-specialty training. Sub-specialty fellowship training can be especially valuable information if you’ve already received a diagnosis and are looking for a specialist to treat a particular vision problem. 

In addition to reviewing an ophthalmologist’s professional credentials and checking for any history of malpractice and disciplinary action, patient reviews are invaluable in determining the quality of personal care you can expect to receive from an ophthalmologist.

While patient reviews are no substitute for board certification and a “clean record,” they can provide the most reliable “big picture” view of the level of care an ophthalmologist actually “delivers” for his or her patients.

In other words, an ophthalmologist may look perfect on paper–their professional credentials may be flawless and their disciplinary record immaculate–but this is no guarantee that patients will necessarily be happy with the care they receive.

For example, an ophthalmologist may be medically “brilliant,” but if he or she is a poor communicator, fails to make patients feel comfortable, has office staff that fail to follow up with patients or incorrectly process insurance paperwork, this will be reflected in the negative reviews of patients.

Speaking of insurance, in researching an ophthalmologist, make sure to check to see whether they accept your brand of insurance to ensure that the eye care services you receive will be covered or adequately reimbursed.

Your insurance provider’s website is a helpful resource in finding multiple ophthalmologist within your area that accept your particular policy. After determining which eye doctors are closest, you can “work backwards” by checking to see which (if any) might have been recommended by your family doctor, friends and family.

At EyeCare 20/20, home of ophthalmologist Dr. Cary Silverman M.D., we deliver state-of-the-art, comprehensive vision care with a level of personal warmth and professionalism that has earned us rave reviews from patients and colleagues alike. As New Jersey’s premier eye care providers, we make it our business to ensure you have happy and healthy eyes, and we invite you to give us a call today to find out for yourself why we’re known as being the friendliest, most advanced eye care providers around!

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