Eye Disorder Information
An ophthalmologist is an eye care specialist who was first trained in all aspects of medicine. He/She gained an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree and then chose to continue on in education as a resident in ophthalmology for either three or four years. He/She was then trained to practice in general ophthalmology.
The ophthalmologist’s recommendations can be for ophthalmic treatment such as eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. Or the recommendation can be for non-ophthalmic treatment. In short, the general ophthalmologist represents the best-trained provider of primary general eye care a patient can find.
The patient population eligible for the general ophthalmologist’s care covers the entire age spectrum from premature infant to elderly senior citizen.
Recommended Eye Exam Schedule
For individuals at any age WITH symptoms or at risk for eye disease, it is recommended you receive a comprehensive eye exam from an ophthalmologist. Your eye doctor can 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 or trauma; stroke or brain injury.
- Symptoms include 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; blurred or double vision.
Age 40+ WITHOUT Symptoms or Risk Factors
Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 Much like mammograms at 40 and colon screenings at 50, this timetable creates an opportunity for early treatment when signs of disease first occur. Why the Recommendation?
- 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 & intervention, this potentially blinding disease can have a favorable outcome.
- For glaucoma, in particular, it is estimated half of those diagnosed are unaware they have the disease. There are often no symptoms until vision loss is extensive. Approximately 2.22 million people today have glaucoma, with estimates expected to reach 3.36 million by the year 2020. Early detection and treatment may 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, participating in sports such as golfing or traveling to unfamiliar areas. Treatment involves removal of the clouded natural lens and replacement with an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. Cataract surgery is the most effective and most common procedure performed in all of medicine according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Children’s Issues in Ophthalmology
The visual system in the brain of a child is still developing until approximately 9 years of age. This leads to a completely different set of problems that affect children’s vision. Infections, cataracts, glaucoma, lazy eye (amblyopia) and ocular misalignment (strabismus) in children can lead to permanent visual loss lasting into adulthood. Children require periodic examinations to search for predisposing factors that lead to permanent visual deficits. The doctor can detect subtle abnormalities that need to be corrected while the child is very young if he or she is to enjoy good vision as an adult.
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.