Choosing an eye care specialist is an important decision. Whether you need a routine vision exam, are looking to update your prescription, or are experience troubling visual symptoms that may signal a need for advanced intervention, choosing an experienced, reputable professional is essential. To begin your selection, you’ll want to first know the difference between different types of eye care professionals.

Opticians, Optometrists, and Ophthalmologists

Though some people use these terms interchangeably, they refer to very different types of eye care professionals, and to very different levels of care. Of the three, only an ophthalmologist is a certified medical doctor.

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

For this reason, when seeking the highest level of eye care available, an ophthalmologist is the clear choice. Not only is an ophthalmologist qualified to provide surgical solutions for more serious eye health needs, but they also bring a broader spectrum of knowledge to everyday vision care.  

When to see an Ophthalmologist

Though the following list is by no means exhaustive, you’ll want to seek out an experienced ophthalmologist for any of the following reasons: 

1. You haven’t had a vision exam in over a year.

Annual vision screenings are a key part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Just as it’s important to receive an annual checkup for your general health, it’s just as important to receive a checkup to determine the state of your visual health.

Not only can a yearly eye care exam determine whether you might benefit from prescription eyewear (or an update to this prescription), it can also ensure early detection of more serious eye conditions. A pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and annual vision exams can help you stay ahead of any potential problems.

2. You’re tired of fussing with eyeglasses or contact lenses and want crystal clear, no-hassle vision, 24/7.

If you’ve reached the point where you find yourself saying to yourself, “Gosh, it would be so nice to wake up with clear vision and not have to fuss with eyeglasses or contact lenses,” it’s time to see an ophthalmologist. Of the three kinds of eye care professionals, only an ophthalmologist is specially trained in LASIK vision correction. LASIK is a quick, painless, affordable, out-patient procedure that will give you the clear vision you’ve always wanted, allowing you to more easily enjoy your daily activities (showering, exercising, swimming, and wrestling with your kids, for example) without prescription eyewear.

3. Your eyes are uncomfortably dry, bloodshot, or fatigued.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s time to consult an ophthalmologist. Your doctor can determine if your symptoms are related to environmental conditions (like indoor aridity caused by running the heat during colder months of the year), to lifestyle factors (excessive hours of screen time can lead to digital eye strain), or to a more serious underlying condition that may necessitate advanced care. Whatever the cause of these symptoms, your eye care professional can help you find relief.

  4. You’re seeing annoying “spots” or “floaters” in your visual field.

If you’re having the maddening experience of seeing something foreign in your visual field and then attempting to focus on it only to have it disappear in your periphery, you’re all too familiar with “floaters.”

“Floaters” is the colloquial term for a phenomenon related to the liquidification of the vitreous fluid within the eye. At birth, the vitreous fluid has a gel-like consistency, but beginning as early as age 2, this gel begins to dissolve and liquify. As this occurs, especially in later life, small pieces of the  vitreous that are in process of dissolving may drift within the larger body of vitreous fluid, casting shadows on the retina as light enters the eye. These shadows are perceived as spots, strands, or squiggles — “floaters” — and can be successfully treated with specialized technology.

5. Your eyewear prescription is current but you’re still not seeing clearly, colors appear muted, or objects appear to have a yellowish cast.

Any of the above symptoms very likely indicate the formation of cataracts. Cataracts are a normal age-related condition that occurs when protein deposits cloud the normally clear lens of the eye. Cataracts can be safely treated by an ophthalmologist who will remove the clouded lens and replace it with a new one, resulting in the recovery of clear vision and vivid color perception.

Though cataract surgery has been successfully performed for many decades, there continue to be improvements to technique as well as technological innovations for enhancing surgical outcomes. Current research indicated that laser-assisted cataract surgery is safer than manual cataract surgery, so it’s important when seeking treatment to choose an ophthalmologist with the experience and equipment to deliver this superior option.  

Looking for an eye care specialist in the New Jersey area?

If you live in the New Jersey area and are looking for an eye care professional with extensive experience, state-of-the-art equipment, personalized attention, and friendliest office staff around, you’ll find it in Eyecare 20/20’s Dr. Cary Silverman. Dr. Silverman is one of New Jersey’s premier ophthalmologists who has delivered quality care for well over a decade and is considered one of the country’s most highly regarded LASIK and cataract surgeons. From routine vision exams to treatment for dry eye and digital eye strain, to any eye care need you can think of, you’ll find it all at Eyecare 20/20. Reach out to us today!  

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