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Should You Be Seeing An Optometrist Or An Ophthalmologist?

Eye issues are a very common health problem in Australia and can range from annoying visual disturbances (which a lot of people just choose to live with) all the way to debilitating eyesight issues like a complete loss of vision. Depending on how severe the eyesight issues are, you will likely consult with one of two eye specialists in either an optometrist or ophthalmologist. For those without an in-depth understanding of eyecare, differentiating between the two can be confusing (particularly if you’ve only heard of an optometrist), so in this article we take a look at what kind of specialist you might need to follow up with depending on your health issue.

Why optometrists are often the first point of contact

Whether you’re looking for an optometrist or ophthalmologist in St Kilda, knowing the differences between the two should give you a much better appreciation of eye specialists. An optometrist is a good place to start, though – this is because optometrists are usually the first specialist sought out by people experiencing some kind of eye or vision problems, however severe it may be. Being a specialist profession, practicing optometrists must have a degree in optometry and to be registered by the Optometry Board of Australia. Optometrists will provide advice and services related to eye health, the prescription of special lenses designed for better vision, in addition to offering help regarding general visual performance. In the case of the aforementioned prescriptions, these may take the form of either glasses and contact lenses (or even both). Although people will usually go to an optometrist for helped related to the assessment, diagnosis and management of eye-related disorders, injuries and diseases, some more complicated cases with require an optometrist refer a patient to an ophthalmologist.

When you might follow up with an ophthalmologist

As you might have gathered, an ophthalmologists is trained to treat severe and unusual ocular and vision problems. In order to manage these issues, ophthalmologists complete postgraduate medical training to effectively “provide diagnostic, treatment and preventative medical services related to diseases, injuries and deficiencies of the human eye and associated structures,” according to the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations. The comprehensive training means that ophthalmologists can perform in-depth eye examinations and diagnose eye-related diseases, among their more advanced offerings. In terms of specialist aid, ophthalmologists carry out eye-related medical and surgical procedures, help patients with blindness prevention, the rehabilitation of patients with visual disability and the general management of overall eye health. It is also the case that ophthalmologists are the only specialists that are allowed to legally offer laser and surgical correction of eye disorders for people.

How to choose the right eye specialist for you

There’s a good reason more people are familiar with optometrists – because they deal with mostly basic and preliminary eye issues, more Australians will inevitably end up seeing an optometrist almost exclusively for the most part during their lifetimes. This way, they can very easily get check-ups and glasses prescriptions, but for the minority of people with much more serious eye issues, an ophthalmologist will be on the cards for the right treatment. There’s no need to simply go out and seek one if this is the case, though – your optometrist will always refer you when action needs to be taken.

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