A question that has been popping up a lot more recently due to the more informed public this age. Well fret not, in this post I’m going to talk about how can an optometrist help you.
Who is an optometrist?
An optometrist is a health care professional that are trained to handle ocular diseases and binocular anomalies on top of what the optician does which is refraction, lens edging and dispensing. We are also trained in specialty lens fittings such as rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, Rose-K and Ortho-K lenses.
What does an optometrist do?
In short, we are the primary care practitioners who are responsible to detect and solve problems with the eyes with ophthalmic lenses and contact lenses, and referrals to ophthalmologists on an indication of a disease that may need medical intervention.
What should you look for from an optometrist?
We are trained in many different refraction techniques to deal with different types of eyes, to ensure that we get an accurate refraction results every time. In our kit, we have a Retinoscope and an Opthalmoscope. The retinoscope would be the tool that we use to determine the person’s power, although these days we prefer to use an autorefractor which is the scanner that scans your power before we bring you guys into the refraction room due to its speed, but when there is an indication to use it, such as when we notice that the astigmatism is too high, with the scope we can actually determine if the person would have keratoconus. In some more serious cases of cataracts, we can detect using the retinoscope as well.
The opthalmoscope is basically a magnifying glass to look in to the eye to check the retina. Usually the optometrist would turn off the lights and tell you to look at a specific direction. After that we would get close with the opthalmoscope to check the clarity of the ocular media, at this point we can determine if a person has cataract or not. After that we focus on the retina, the things that we would check for would be the ratio between the blood vessels, hemorrhages, leakages and also the optic nerve head. With that we can determine if he person’s blood pressure is well controlled, if their diabetic status has worsened and also the possibility of glaucoma.
When you are having pink eye, we would use a slit lamp, which is a microscope, to check the surface of your eye, and the inner eye to determine the cause of the red eye. Which could be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, allergies and foreign objects.
Kids under the age of 6 are also more than welcome to be screened so that they do not develop lazy eye. Lazy eye causes a permanent loss of visual acuity when it is not managed early on, so it is prudent for us to check for the signs and symptoms before it is too late. We can also manage kids with squint eyes (mata sepet), with specialty prism lenses so that they don’t later develop into lazy eyes as well. And in some cases prescribe in office training to help the kids train their eye muscles so that they align and look normal again.
With all the technicalities aside, optometrists can also deduce the condition of your eyes through questions. In our book, there is a word of advice saying that 70% of the time, the patient would tell you their diagnosis. Its just that the patients are not aware of their conditions, so we are also there to inform and educate.
When should you see an optometrist?
Anytime when you feel like your vision is not as good as it should be, eyestrains, headaches after long hours of work, persistent itching in the eyes, mucus discharge in the eyes, the list goes on. In a nutshell, optometrists are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you with more than just your vision, but also your health and lifestyle.