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Vision Specialists

On this page, you will find the following:

Eye Doctors

Many people confuse optometrists and ophthalmologists. An optometrist has a four year post-graduate degree (following a Bachelor of Science degree) and is a Doctor of Optometry. Optometrists examine patients and prescribe treatment, normally non-surgical, such as eyeglasses and contacts. An ophthalmologist has an undergraduate degree, a four-year medical degree and four years of post-graduate training in ophthalmology. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and can also perform eye surgery. For those with glaucoma or at risk of developing it, both optometrists and ophthalmologists can normally test for the disease, but an ophthalmologist may be required for management and treatment.

It is very important to have regular eye examinations, particularly as you age, or if you have any of the risk factors associated with glaucoma. Glaucoma normally has no symptoms until vision is lost and cannot be regained. However, if diagnosed early, glaucoma is treatable. Eye pressure can be monitored and controlled, disease progress can be delayed and vision loss prevented. People under age 65 should have an eye exam (including glaucoma testing) at least every two years; for those over age 65, one exam per year is recommended.

Since eye pressure can vary from day to day or even hour to hour, if there is a high risk of developing glaucoma, a doctor will normally perform several exams to collect comparative pressure readings at different times of the day. Multiple readings are much more likely to present an accurate picture of overall eye pressure. Lasik surgery, the reshaping of the cornea with a laser, causes corneal thinning, which can result in artificially low eye pressure readings. Thus, a doctor should be informed if the patient has had Lasik surgery.

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Low Vision Therapists

Low vision therapists work with the visually impaired to identify their personal needs, recommend available assistive devices that will meet these needs and instruct in their use, and help make the best use of remaining sight. These therapists can design individual programs that emphasize the activities important to each person. They normally work with a team of people including optometrists and ophthalmologists (who may be low vision specialists). Therapists can help the visually impaired make adjustments with all of the following: daily living activities such as grooming, meal preparation and managing the home; health; communication (e.g., use of the computer); job performance; leisure and social activities, including hobbies; and interacting with friends, family and the community.

In consulting a low vision therapist, it helps to be as specific as possible about important activities and other sources of pleasure. This will ensure creation of the best individual plan.

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Further Information

There are many helpful organizations that can offer more information. The Resource section of this website contains more information on providers.

The following publications from BrightFocus can provide you with more information:

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Source: Some of the above information was obtained from LowVision.com.

Last Review: 08/30/13

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