What is Ophthalmology?
The branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology, and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a specialist in medical and surgical eye problems.
An Ophthalmologist attends and graduates medical school. They take all of the medical board exams and become a licensed MD. After medical school they will attend an ophthalmology residency for four years. The first year is typically oriented towards general medicine where they continue to learn how to take care of medical conditions. Because of this they become very comfortable treating systemic infections, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, etc. The next three years are dedicated to diagnosing and treating eye diseases. It is important to have the medical background as many systemic diseases manifest themselves in they eye. With this medical knowledge a doctor specializing in ophthalmology is able to make a systemic diagnosis from an eye exam and either start treatment for the underlying disease or refer the patient to the appropriate doctor who will treat their systemic disease.
When Should I See an Ophthalmologist?
You should see an Ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:
- Loss of Vision– full or partial
- Change in Vision– seeing spots, flashes of light, watery vision, double vision, blurry faces, and any other distortions in vision
- Change in Field of Vision– black spots, shadows, blurriness or darkness in peripheral or central vision.
- Physical Changes to the Eye– such as going cross eye, eyes turning in, out, up or down in an unnatural way.
- Changes in Color Vision
- Infection in or Around the Eye
What Treatments do Ophthalmologists Perform?
Ophthalmologists have spent a lot of time learning how to do all surgeries that are performed on or around they eye and eyelids. Some of these surgeries include cataract removal, LASIK, PRK, pterygium, glaucoma, retinal detachments, macular hole repair, blepharoplasty, ptosis repair, ectropion repair, etc. They are also able to perform annual eye check-ups and measure patients for glasses and contact lenses.
Article Contributor: Trent Richards, MD