What is an Optometrist?
Optometrists or eye doctors study to be able to diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye diseases and eye conditions. This includes diagnosing vision problems and prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses.
An Optometrist's Education
Optometrists must have at least three years of undergraduate education before attending optometry school. Many optometry school applicants possess a bachelor's degree or higher. Optometry school is a four-year program that culminates with licensing clinical examinations to be certified by the state board. For those who want to specialize in a particular area, such as pediatric optometry, a clinical residency may be necessary.
An Optometrist's Role
An optometrist sets up a practice or joins an existing practice to offer comprehensive eye exams to patients. In this eye exam, he can not only address any vision problems but also discover many different types of eye conditions and diseases including glaucoma and macular degeneration. Optometrist may not be able to treat every eye disease and will refer the patient out if the need arises.
After an eye exam is complete, the optometrist can prescribe prescription eyeglasses or prescription contact lenses to correct vision issues. In addition, some patients may also receive prescription sunglasses.
Making Surgery Referrals
Optometrists are not licensed to perform surgery. However, many times optometrists discover the condition during a routine eye exam that prompts the need for surgery. The optometrist can then refer the patient to an ophthalmologist who can perform eye surgery. Many times, the optometrist and ophthalmologist will work together to ensure the best care. The optometrist may also handle all pre-surgical and post-surgical visits.