Ophthalmology refers to the branch of medicine focusing on diseases of the eye and their treatments, often including surgery. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in the breadth of their scope and the extent of their training.
Generally speaking, ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions, though many will specialize further in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care, such as cataracts or glaucoma. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery.
While both optometrists and ophthalmologists can conduct routine eye exams, those with an existing conditions will require the treatment of an ophthalmologist who specializes in the treatment of that condition, especially if surgery is required. In many cases, your ophthalmologist will work in tandem with your optometrist to treat your condition; this is often referred to as co-managed care.
For example, an Acuity Eye Group optometrist may detect the beginnings of a cataract during a routine eye exam. They would then refer you to one of our cataract specialists, who would treat the cataract through surgery or other means. Following that procedure, you would then be sent back to your optometrist who would monitor your condition and perform any post-operative care recommended by the cataract surgeon.
Individuals 65 and over should see a board-certified ophthalmologist for a complete and comprehensive eye exam once a year. An annual comprehensive eye exam ensures early detection for vision-threatening diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
If you currently suffer, or think you may suffer, from any of the following conditions, it may be in your best interest to see an ophthalmologist: