Optometry focuses on treating diseases and conditions that affect the anatomy and physiology of the eye. What this means is that an optometrist takes care of functional and medical care for the eye. They are specialists in dealing with multiple eye diseases and conditions.
Optometry Training and Education
Becoming an optometrist requires a post-graduate degree from a 4 year college of optometry. Optometrists often complete residency like other branches of health care. Some optometrists can undergo additional training if they choose and focus on a specialty within the field.
Optometry training covers the entire spectrum of eye care. Optometrists are trained to do thorough eye exams to prescribe glasses or contact lenses, offer medical treatment for assorted eye problems, and do simple minor surgical procedures for qualified candidates. They also take an active role in conducting scientific research on eye diseases and other serious vision problems. Optometrists work to uncover causes behind these things and find cures.
An optometrists is a licensed doctor, certified by both national and state boards. An ophthalmologist focuses primarily on treating medical eye conditions and performing major eye surgeries. Often, optometrists and ophthalmologists will work together to provide complete eye care for a patient.
There are multiple sub-specialties where an eye care provider can focus on treating and curing specific types of eye problems. This can make it easier to address specific needs of eye patients.
Here at Sonoran Desert Eye Center, we are able to provide most of these specialty services to various degrees. Plus we have wonderful relationships with specialists in each of these fields where we may need additional help.
These sub-specialties include:
Cataract: Optometrists are trained to determine when a patient is ready for cataract surgery. An ophthalmology cataract surgeon determines the best intra-ocular implant to implant to maximize a patient's visual acuity.
Cornea and External Disease: Diagnosing and treating diseases related to the cornea, sclera and eyelids are the primary focus of this specialty. Ophthalmology training within this specialty includes doing corneal transplant surgery and other types of corneal surgery.
Contact Lenses: Most optometrists can fit basic contact lenses. Fitting advanced contact lenses for patients with severe glaucoma and corneal disease requires specialized training and experience. Our doctors enjoy fitting contact lenses in these often difficult cases.
Glaucoma: Trained optometrists with the proper equipment can diagnose and treat glaucoma medically. Patients who cannot be adequately controlled with eye drops are referred to a glaucoma specialist who can perform minimally invasive or major eye surgery.
Neuro-ophthalmology: A nonsurgical specialty focused on diseases affecting the optic nerve and visual pathways. It deals with the relationship between neurologic and ophthalmic diseases and can be combined with eye and orbital surgery.
Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery: With this specialty, the focus is on reconstructive surgery in facial and orbital areas. It can include complex surgeries on eyelids, orbits, certain facial bones, and the lacrimal system.
Pediatric Eye Care: This specialty focuses on dealing with vision problems and eye diseases affecting children. Pediatric optometrists offer functional vision and medical care of pediatric population. Pediatric ophthalmologists offer medical and surgical treatment of genetic ocular abnormalities and serious eye diseases before a patient reaches adulthood.
Vision Therapy: Vision therapists often work closely with pediatric eye care specialists. Like a physical therapist for the eyes, they prescribe eye exercises to help rehabilitate the focus and alignment of the eyes.
Vitreoretinal Diseases: Optometrists with the proper training and equipment can diagnose most retinal diseases. They are trained to recognize when a retinal condition needs to be referred for surgery to a retinal specialist. A vitreoretinal ophthalmologist uses tools like ultrasound fluorescein, angiography and electrophysiology to make a diagnosis. From there, they treat vitreoretinal diseases through using such procedures as laser therapy, cryotherapy, retinal detachment surgery and vitrectomy.
Low Vision: A low vision specialist helps patients with limited vision be able to perform desired tasks using equipment such as magnifiers and microscopes.
Ocularist: An ocularist helps patients who have lost an eye. They design artificial eyes that match the color and size of the fellow eye. They focus on comfort and cosmesis rather than function.