Eye Disorder Information
An ophthalmologist is an eye care specialist who was first trained in all aspects of medicine. After earning an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree, the physician chooses to continue on in education as a resident in ophthalmology for either three or four years. After this additional vigorous training, he/she is able to practice general ophthalmology.
The practice of General Ophthalmology consists of all aspects of eye care, including medical and surgical. It also covers all aspects of eye power corrections, including laser surgery, contact lenses, and eyeglasses.
A general ophthalmologist represents the best-trained provider of primary general eye care a patient can find. General ophthalmologists provide eye care for patients as young as infants to elderly senior citizens.
Recommended Eye Exam Schedule
Healthy individuals should receive an eye exam every one to three years, depending on age and other factors. Individuals at any age with symptoms or at risk for eye disease should receive a comprehensive eye exam from an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Your eye doctor will determine how frequently your eyes should be examined based on your initial results.
Risk factors include a family history of eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, diagnosis of a chronic condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, eye injury, surgery, trauma, stroke, or brain injury. Symptoms such as ocular headaches with vision changes, reduced vision in one or both eyes, persistent pain in or around the eyes, frequent change in vision or eyewear prescriptions, and blurred or double vision should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Age 40+ WITHOUT Symptoms or Risk Factors
It is recommended that adults aged 40 or older with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening. Much like it’s recommended to get a mammogram at 40 or a colon screening at 50, this recommended timetable creates an opportunity for early detection of eye diseases prior to any symptoms being present. This baseline eye disease screening is beneficial for the following reasons:
- A comprehensive evaluation can uncover eye abnormalities that often begin without symptoms, including ocular tumors. Your ophthalmologist can even be the first to detect signs of diabetes or cardiovascular disease and recommend follow up with a specialist.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness and often affects working-aged adults. Nearly two out of every five people with diabetes has evidence of retinopathy. Many patients do not receive diagnosis or treatment in time to minimize the risk of vision loss even though effective treatment is available. With early detection and intervention, this potentially blinding disease can have a favorable outcome.
Individuals sixty and over should receive an annual exam to evaluate for age-related conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It is estimated that half of those diagnosed with glaucoma are unaware they have the disease. There are often no symptoms until vision loss is extensive. Approximately 2.22 million people have glaucoma – early detection and treatment can prevent or delay loss of vision.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. In some cases, AMD advances so slowly that people notice little change in their vision. In others, the disease progresses faster and may lead to a loss of vision in both eyes.
More than half of all Americans will have cataracts by age 80. Some of the most common complaints include difficulty driving at night, reading, and participating in sports such as golf. Treatment involves removal of the clouded natural lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. Cataract surgery is one of the most common and effective procedure performed in all of medicine according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Note: This information is not a substitute for professional care. If you are having any problems with your eyes, you should see your ophthalmologist or optometrist for diagnosis and treatment.