A local optometrist is an eye doctor who provides vision care. They perform vision testing, look for diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, manage conditions such as dry eye and fit glasses and contact lenses. A local optometrist is different than a local ophthalmologist (an eye doctor who performs surgical eye treatments), but these healthcare professionals may work together for optimal vision care. If you’re experiencing headaches or eye strain, your local family physician may refer you to a local optometrist. Your local optometrist can refer you to a local ophthalmologist if needed.
An optometrist provides primary vision care for people of all ages - from performing eye exams to diagnosing eye disease. An optometrist completes three or more years of college or university followed by four years of optometry school. Regular eye examinations are essential to diagnose eye conditions and assess your overall eye health.
During an eye exam with a local optometrist, he or she will measure your visual acuity. Visual acuity is how well you can see from a distance, and the test involves looking at an eye chart to identify letters that get smaller as you read down. Other tests your eye care professional may perform during a regular eye examination include:
• A visual field test to check your peripheral vision
• Using a tonometer to screen for glaucoma
• Pachymetry to measure cornea thickness
• Having you following an object in different directions with your eyes to determine muscle control
• A retinal exam of the back of your eye: if special eyedrops are used, you’ll experience temporary blurred vision and light sensitivity
• A slit-lamp exam to look at the cornea, iris and lens
There are a number of eye health conditions that your local optometrist may screen for, diagnose and treat. These eye conditions include:
• Amblyopia: Also known as lazy eye, this vision development disorder usually affects only one eye.
• Cataracts: A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. Cataracts usually develop slowly, causing a painless and gradual decrease in vision as the lens of the eye prevents light rays from properly passing through.
• Computer vision problems: If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, you may experience eye strain.
• Conjunctivitis: Conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye, is an inflammation of the the thin clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye called the conjunctiva.
• Diabetic retinopathy: Also called diabetic eye disease, this diabetes-related complication damages the blood vessels of the tissue at the back of the retina.
• Dry eye: This condition occurs when a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate the eye.
• Glaucoma: Glaucoma is an eye disease caused by a buildup of intraocular pressure (IOP). Your eyes have clear liquid that flows in and out, but if you have glaucoma, this liquid doesn’t drain properly, causing this buildup of IOP pressure.
• Macular degeneration: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an extremely common eye condition. As the leading cause of severe vision loss in people over 65, it can affect near and distance vision.
• Refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia and astigmatism