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Eye Doctor

Looking For An Eye Doctor Near You?

There are three different kinds of professionals that could be considered “eye doctors”, but their work can vary considerably. They simply fall into the same category due to the fact that they all work to help you protect your vision, despite their work being quite different.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the roles of optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists - alongside what you should expect from an appointment with each of them. Finding an eye doctor in a nearby location is not easy and it is important to search for the best one in your neighborhood. Your search should include location, VSP coverage or other vision benefits providers, ease of contact (doctors are very busy and getting a good contact where you can also make a purchase for most people is not easy in your coverage area.

According to the CDC, “approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have eye impairment”, though you can deal with vision complications at any stage in your life. As a result, it’s crucial that we take steps to better care for our visual health - for example, to find an eye doctor on a regular basis. New patients especially should search and contact an eye care professional on a regular basis.

There are three professions that often fall under the umbrella term of ‘eye doctor’:

Optometrist (OD)

Optician (LO)

Ophthalmologist (MD)

Each professional offers different services, though they all work toward the same aim of protecting and preserving your vision. They can often signpost you towards others should your care surpass their expertise or require more in-depth attention.

Various studies recommend that you see the Optician or Optometrist at least every two years - though you should attend more frequently if you have already been diagnosed with an eye condition, or if you notice any sudden changes to your vision. Despite this, of the 93 million adults in the US who are considered at risk of serious vision loss, only 50% have had eye exams in the past year (CDC).

Why is taking care of your sight important?

There are many reasons why taking care of your vision is important. For example

  • Taking care of your eyes reduces the chances of you developing eye diseases or conditions that could impact your eyes and overall health.

     

  • Taking care of your eyes means you have a better understanding of your visual health, meaning you’ll notice any complications or changes to your eyes much quicker than you would otherwise.

     

  • Loss of sight has a significant impact on your life, and can often lead to a range of mental and physical health problems.

     

  • Loss of vision could be linked to other health conditions, indicating that you need to seek further medical help or support.

The Old Eye Chart

Optometrist (OD)

What does an Optometrist do?

These are professionals who have typically completed a four-year optometry degree, alongside passing the National Board of Examiners Optometry test. Their work is very similar to ophthalmologists, but they do not have a specific medical degree, such as an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) qualification. They are referred to as OD, or Doctor of Optometry.

Their role is to conduct eye exams that assess your visual health and identify any signs or indicators of larger problems such as glaucoma, or other ocular diseases. They can provide solutions for any minor issues they encounter but will pass over any surgical work to an MD.

They will also carry out eye tests that assess your overall vision. After these sessions, they will put together a prescription that you can use to purchase glasses and contact lenses. To put it simply, they offer primary care and support - both to those who are experiencing eye problems, and those who simply want to conduct an annual check on their eye health. They typically work independently or alongside opticians.

What should I expect from an optometry appointment?

During an appointment, they will conduct a series of tests that assess your eye health. Typically, your doctor will subject you to three tests and log the results:

  • Eye Muscle Tests.

  • Refraction test.

  • Visual Acuity Test.

  • The Eye Doctor Examination

Eye Muscle Test

During an eye muscle test, an optometrist will log a series of small tests that will assess the strength and capabilities of the subject muscles that control eye movements. These muscles are known as rectus and oblique muscles, and their weakness could lead to a variety of complications, such as double vision and eye strain. To test these muscles, you’ll be asked to follow the path of a moving object with your eye.

Refraction tests

Refraction tests are carried out by specialist machines, which help them determine what prescription you will need for your glasses or contacts. This information is calculated by figuring out how light rays move through your eye.

Visual Acuity Tests

Visual Acuity Tests are likely the kind of examination you are most familiar with. During this time, your doctor will ask you to read out a series of letters or numbers from a poster on the other side of the room, with the figures getting smaller and smaller as you proceed. This test measures the strength and quality of your vision.

Some other tests may also be carried out, such as a visual field test.

Anatomy of the Eye

Visual field tests

Visual field tests are designed to measure how much you can see from the corner of your eyes, without turning your head. This is often known as your peripheral vision, and impacts your ability to walk around without bumping into things, etc. During a visual field test, you’ll typically have to place your chin on a chin rest and look inside a large dome shaped device. Over a period of 5-10 minutes, a series of lights will flash throughout the dome, and you must press a button each time you see one. You complete the test with one eye covered at a time, and it helps to identify potential blind spots in vision.

Following these tests, they will then carry out a retinal examination. Using specialist equipment and cameras will enable them to identify problems or issues in your eyes. In some cases, they may apply eye drops ahead of time to facilitate their examination.

At the end of your session, your optometrist will discuss your health with you, alongside whether or not your prescription has changed. If your prescription has changed, they may give a reason as to why, such as if they believe you are dealing with a specific condition, or whether this is simply the product of your vision degenerating a little as you get older. If necessary, they will signpost you towards further support services.

VSP Vision Plan

Optometrists are often a VSP or EyeMed member, because VSP and EyeMed are leading providers of supplemental insurance and deals primarily with independent doctors. You can also check with the member services group at your employer or your health plan, to see what your specific vision care benefit is, and who are the individual providers near you, their street address, are they in-network and a full list of services provided. Eye care services are often provided near your current location, whether you want to go in network or out of network. Some vision care plans include contact lenses, and some do not include contact lenses. The eye care services provided by your VSP network doctor - even if you are going in network - will vary widely among independent doctors. The information provided on their own websites does not necessarily reflect the current services they offer, since their website may not be up to date

Optician (LO)

What does an Optician do?

Opticians are professionals whose work revolved around filling the prescriptions written by optometrists. They work to fit visual aids such as glasses and contact lenses, and you’ll likely interact with them whenever you go to buy a new pair of glasses. They make adjustments to frames to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible and may alter lens thickness. If you purchase glasses online, you’re unlikely to consult with an optician as their work is typically more ‘sales’ focused.

Opticians do not have the same level of experience and qualifications as optometrists and are unable to diagnose or treat eye conditions. They typically receive on the job training for the work they carry out, as opposed to obtaining a formal degree. However, this does not mean that the advice they provide you is not useful.

In about 25 US states, opticians do not require a license. Other states require various levels of training, and then the opticians are granted the LO designation, which means Licensed Optician.

What should I expect from an optician's appointment?

You will likely meet with an optician, given that their primary purpose is filling prescriptions and fitting glasses and frames. They will spend some time with you discussing your options, especially if this is the first time you will be wearing glasses or contacts. They may be able to provide you with specific advice pertaining to which glasses are best suited to your prescription and will also take necessary measurements to ensure your glasses are a comfortable fit.

In many cases, an optician's work and methodologies are similar to that of a pharmacist, as they both work to fulfill prescriptions. As such, your transactions with an optician will be quite similar!

Ophthalmologist (MD)

What does an MD do?

Ophthalmologists are typically the most ‘highly trained’ form of eye specialist and often work at specialist eye clinics or hospitals, as opposed to independent or chain practices. They have completed a Medical Degree like any other doctor, followed by residency, alongside four years of postgraduate specialty training. This means that even the most newly-qualified MD has 8 years of studying under their belt.What is an autorefractor used for?

Ophthalmologist roles are similar to an optometrist, in that they can identify, diagnose and treat eye conditions and diseases. However, they are also trained in surgical and medical interventions, which elevates the level of care they are able to provide to their patients.

For example, ophthalmologists may carry out surgical procedures such as cataract surgery, retinal surgery, glaucoma surgery and more. They can also issue prescriptions.

What should I expect from an ophthalmologist appointment?

An MD appointment, for the most part, will be very similar to a typical appointment. Before your meeting, you’ll be asked to provide them with specific information related to your visual and physical health, alongside family history. They will then carry out a series of tests, such as:Slit Lamp

  • Refraction tests.

  • Eye muscle tests.

  • Visual Acuity tests.

  • Peripheral eye tests.

If you are meeting your ophthalmologist to assess a pre-diagnosed condition, such as glaucoma, your appointment will be tailored around this. For example, you may attend a follow-up appointment to see if previously prescribed eye drops worked to reduce the pressure around your eyes, or if further interventions are necessary. If the condition has not cleared itself, they may begin exploring other options such as laser treatment or surgery.

Again, if you are having eye surgery, the process will vary depending upon the kind of surgery that is being carried out. However, your MD and their team will be on hand to answer any questions you have ahead of time, which will put your mind at ease. They’ll be able to explain the surgery, and its benefits, in simple terms so that you’re able to understand the process and your recovery.

Be sure to listen to all advice, and follow it as closely as possible, especially when it pertains to your recovery from a surgery. Ignoring advice, or trying to return to normality sooner than advised could lead to a range of complications - meaning it will actually slow down your overall recovery as opposed to speeding it up.

How often should I see an eye specialist?

As discussed above, it is recommended by various experts that you see an eye specialist at least once every two years as an adult. Children should visit annually until the age of 16. However, you may need to visit the doctor more frequently if:

  • You notice any sudden or abrupt changes to your vision. For example, you may find that you’re finding it hard to focus, or that your sight is slightly blurry.

  • You wear glasses/contact lenses/visual aids already and feel as though you have noticed a change in your prescription.

  • You have previously been diagnosed with an eye disease.

  • You are experiencing pain or discomfort around your eyes.

You may also need to attend appointments more regularly if you are genetically predisposed to certain eye conditions and complications - which is why knowing your family’s medical history is so important. If you don’t know if there are any

genetic eye conditions in your family, the likelihood is that you have nothing to worry about- but it's always worth asking so that you remain informed. After all, according to a recent study, there are more than 350 hereditary eye diseases, including conditions such as:

As these conditions tend to manifest later in life, being aware of any potential vulnerability allows you to seek care and support sooner rather than later.

Visual changes that indicate you need to visit an ophthalmologist could include:What is a tonometer used for?

  • Migraines with aura.

  • Blurred or fuzzy vision.

  • Increased light sensitivity.

  • Inability to focus.

  • Eye pain.

  • Frequent eye infections.

  • Eye fatigue.

  • Dry or itchy eyes.

  • Spotted vision.

     

Visits to the Ophthalmologist are often via referral from an optician or medical professional, but you may also be able to make a direct request should you wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your eyesight or carry out any routine tests (as discussed above).

What are the benefits of visiting the eye doctor?

Keeping up to date with routine visits to your doctor and regular audits of your eyes is quite simply, the most efficient method for protecting your sight for years to come. These eye care visits come with many benefits, for example:

  • Health conditions can be identified quickly. During a routine visit, your doctor will be able to detect any signs or indicators of health conditions that need further examination.

In addition to identifying specific ocular diseases, they can also identify other conditions such as high-blood pressure. This is because high blood pressure can damage the vessels in the back of your eye. Believe it or not, routine eye examinations can also lead to the discovery of other health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, brain tumors and multiple sclerosis. This is because so much of our physical health is linked to our vision, even though we may not immediately realize it.

  • You can upgrade your prescription. As we age, it's only normal for our prescription to change somewhat. However, using corrective lenses that aren’t meeting your needs places further strain on your eyes. As a result, visiting your doctor regularly means that your prescription remains as accurate as possible. While subtle changes to your prescription may go unnoticed, you’ll realize how much clearer, sharper and more focused everything is once you grab your new pair of glasses. You may even find that your ability to focus at work or school increases considerably too as you are no longer squinting or straining your eyes when sitting behind your desk or trying to read.

     

  • You get better peace of mind. According to a recent study, around 53% of adults are concerned about sight loss. Regular appointments with your optometrist can help protect and preserve your vision, through interventive treatment methods and guidance. They can also provide you with the appropriate support and guidance if you are experiencing severe vision loss. It's important to remember that loss of sight can sometimes be inevitable, but with the right support systems in place, there are resources that you can rely on during this time - taking care of your health gives you access to these sooner, rather than later.

  • You get a better understanding of eye health. Another benefit associated with regular eye doctor appointments is that they provide you with better insight into your visual health, and the steps you can take to take better care of your vision moving forward. For example, they may provide you with useful tips that you can follow to reduce eye strain, such as limiting the amount of time you spend behind the screen, or wearing sunglasses in bright light.Eye Doctor's Chair

How are eye tests carried out on babies?

Medical professionals will regularly test your child’s vision, in order to determine whether or not they are experiencing any eye issues that they may not be able to verbalize. Of course, the tests carried out on babies and young children are a little different from tests for adults, because their sight develops over time.

For example, when your child is a newborn, a test known as the “red reflex test” will be carried out. Using an instrument that magnifies your child’s eyes, an ophthalmologist will be able to shine a light into your baby’s eyes. A red reflection should be seen as a result of this. If no red reflection is present, this is an early indicator that a baby has an eye condition - and further tests can be carried out.

As children get older, they’ll begin to carry out tests similar to those you carry out as an adult, such as visual field tests and more.

How to Find an Eye Doctor near me

When you are putting your health in somebody else’s hands, it's important that you find a professional that you know you can trust. As a result, it's important that you do a little research ahead of time to find eye doctors that are right for you.

Typically, you can find out much of the information you need regarding doctors from their online presence. Here, they will likely detail their staff, their qualifications, and the services they have to offer. You’ll also be able to read reviews from other patients relating to their experiences with this doctor. However, you may also want to seek out recommendations from friends and family for eye doctors in your local area.

If you are dealing with a particular condition, you may want to look for a specialist with extensive experience in treating and supporting patients with these conditions. This way, you’ll know you are receiving treatment that is specifically tailored to your needs.

You can also gain further recommendations for an optician or optometrist from your ophthalmologist or vice versa. As their work often overlaps, they likely have

knowledge of other eyesight professionals working in their area, and may be able to refer you to their services if necessary. Again, this is a great way to know that you can trust the recommendation you are receiving.The Phoropter: How to dial in the right prescription

Eye Doctor Near Me

We’ve put together a comprehensive state-by-state list of recognized, respected, and highly-qualified eye doctors so that you can easily find an eye doctor in your local area. This means you no longer have to spend hours searching online for a local eye doctor - as we’ve done the hard work for you!

Once you’ve completed your appointment, it's time to get to the fun stuff. That is, choosing your newest pair of glasses. Whether you’re looking for simplistic and traditional frames, or something a little more bold and exciting, we’ve got you covered at EyeGlasses.com. Even better, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to get your hands on a pair of glasses you’ll love - as you can now have them delivered directly to your door - simply pop in your prescription and place your order today!

After doing an online search, contact a doctor in a location near you and ask some questions like how will payment be made, what is their schedule, what kind of service do they provide, can you maintain the relationship, do they accept your insurance, are there any limitations, what is their guarantee, where did they get their education, what brands of glasses and prescription lenses do they carry, do they have wheelchair access, can you make payment in installments, can you see them every one to two years, are there any additional relevant costs, can they provide links to search for more eye information, are they members of professional organizations or members of local community organizations, do they offer access to surgery or access to a local hospital, do they have any locations in Georgia, can you request service for ancillary treatments like IPL service, are they listed in a directory, either online or offline directory, etc etc...?

VSP Network Doctors

I am a VSP member. Where can I search for a VSP network doctor?

As a leading provider network, VSP provides a comprehensive website with an up to date list of VSP network doctors.

How to Use Your VSP Out-of-Network Benefits:

Step 1: Call VSP Vision at this number (800) 221-3272, or register online here into your account at their site. The site gives you all the info you need, and you are better off using the site to enter your account because it is much faster, as you don't need to wait for a connection to a human.

Step 2: Give them your plan number, account number, user id, and your other user information.

Step 3: Ask them to describe your the Out-of-Network benefit for your plan. Ask for the information necessary to submit the out-of-network claim.

Step 4: Get a price for your glasses from Eyeglasses.com, subtract from that your VSP out-of-network benefit, and get your total price for glasses. Compare that to the total price offered by your local optical store to determine the best value for you. You can get this benefit buy purchasing frames and/or lenses from Eyeglasses.com, and then submitting our invoice to VSP for reimbursement. Eyeglasses.com is accepted by VSP as an official out-of-network provider. It is easy to buy eyeglasses and lenses at Eyeglasses.com, follow this link to read more about buying glasses online.