Everyone needs their vision, which is why it’s important that you find the resources that are right for you. There’s also a huge level of trust involved. After all, you only get one set of eyes! Finding a competent optometrist, ophthalmologist, or optician will help you develop a trusting relationship for the longevity of your vision and maintain healthy sight for the rest of your life.
Before heading straight to the vision clinic, we need to understand what is exactly the doctor can do for you. Let’s check out the difference in the “Big 3 O’s” in eye care below.
Optometrists evaluate your eyes for vision, health, and refraction. They must have received a Doctorate degree in Optometry. It is expected that all optometrists complete a four-year undergraduate degree, and accomplish another four years of education at a post-graduate school. If you are concerned about the experience of your provider, know that they are also required to pursue continued education in their practice. They typically fix refractive issues, prescribe glasses, and contact lenses. Optometrists can also:
- Write prescriptions for eye care medication and eye diseases
- Legally conduct vision therapy
- Assist you with pre and post care after outpatient or inpatient surgeries
Ophthalmologists evaluate your eyes, similarly to an optometrists, by conducting your vision examinations, prescribing medicine, and go a bit further in their education. These professionals are either Medical Doctors or Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine. In addition to the accolades of an optometrist, these men and women attend medical school, a year of internship work, and at least three years of resident work in a hospital environment.
Although not as academically rigorous, opticians typically receive training (varies state by state) to be able to fix lenses and sell eye wear in accordance with what your eye doctor has prescribed.
What’s for you, Optometry or Ophthalmology?
For most, as long as you have healthy vision (and get annual check-ups!) it is simply a matter of choice. There is not much difference between the two until more technical problems arise down the road. Both are capable when it comes to basic examinations and issuing corrective eye wear.
If you unfortunately have either a preexisting issue, or an issue is diagnosed, then it is time to find an appropriate provider. If the issue is medical and requires surgery, an ophthalmologist would be recommended. Assuming you already had an optometrist as a primary provider, they will be happy to direct you to a trusted colleague for additional support.
Often times, it is a group effort to get patients the care they need. It is very common that people need both an optometrist and an ophthalmologist to monitor your eye health. As part of this group management approach, one side will diagnose and care for your eyes, and the other side will issue medication and/or surgery to fix the deficiency. This group management will ensure that both sides of the vision specialty will see you pre and post-surgery care.
Questions to Consider when Choosing your Provider
The first, and arguably most important fact to take into consideration, is what your employer provides for you and your family in terms of health insurance. Dependent of what level of coverage you have, there will be out-of-pocket expenses to think about and finding an authorized professional in your area.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution, simply call or check your potential provider’s website (the doctor’s will have their information provided).
If you do choose to call or email your future provider’s office, ensure you ask how their insurance claim process works. Will you have to submit claims yourself, or will the doctor’s office take care of it for you?
When insurance is not available to you, or does not cover the provider you want, patients should investigate the provider’s typical rate and fees for things such as regular examinations or prescription costs.
Last, other things to consider before committing to a new vision care specialist:
- What will your provider do if he cannot treat your issue? Are there other doctors in their network for a referral?
- The provider’s specialty and area of focus
- The doctor’s reputation. How did you find out about him/her? What would your friends or family say about them?
Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Receive an excellent service on a comprehensive eye care
Providing service in English and Farsi for American and Iranian Patients
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364