Ophthalmology

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine which deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. Since ophthalmologists perform operations on eyes, they are considered to be both surgical and medical specialists. Ophthalmology includes sub-specialties which deal either with certain diseases or diseases of certain parts of the eye. Some of them are cornea, ocular surface, and external disease, glaucoma, the treatment of retinal problems through non-surgical means.

When should I seek an ophthalmologist?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that you should have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist if you have any of these signs or risk factors for eye disease:

eye

  • Decreased vision, even if temporary
  • Distorted vision
  • New floaters (black “strings” or specks in the vision) and flashes of light
  • A curtain or veil blocking vision
  • Halos (colored circles around lights)
  • An eye injury or eye pain
  • Red eye
  • Bulging of one or both eyes
  • Misaligned eyes
  • Double vision
  • Loss of peripheral (side) vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Thyroid disease-related eye problems, e.g. Graves’ disease
  • A family history of eye disease
  • Excess tearing
  • Eyelid abnormalities

Based on the examination, your ophthalmologist will let you know how often to return for follow-up exams.

Because of an increased risk for glaucoma, people of African descent should see an ophthalmologist even if they have no other signs of or risk factors for eye disease. Your ophthalmologist will let you know how often to return for follow-up exams.

Recommended intervals for eye exams

Without additional risk factors, eye exams should be given by a pediatrician, family doctor or ophthalmologist at the following intervals:

  • Children under the age of 18
    • Newborn to three months
    • Six months to one year
    • Three years old
    • Five years old
    • Later as needed
  • Adults 20 to 64 years of age:
    Adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease should have a complete eye disease screening by age 40 — the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to happen. Based on the results of the initial screening, your ophthalmologist will let you know how often to return for follow-up exams.
  • Adults 65 years or older
    Every one to two years, or as recommended by your ophthalmologist.

What can I expect during my ophthalmology consultation?

  • Discussion about medical history of eye
  • Measuring existing prescription
  • Computerized eye examination
  • Vision Test (Far, near, screen distance, with and without correction)
  • Color vison test
  • Glaucoma Screening
  • Slit lamp test = anterior part of the eye and fundus test (cataract and retinopathy screening)

Dry Eye Syndrome and its Treatment

Punctal plugs increase moisture to dry eyes naturally, and could provide relief of unpleasant symptoms when eye drops are no longer sufficient. By preventing tears from draining away, more moisture remains on the cornea.

Following an examination by your ophthalmologist, the plugs can be placed painlessly, in less than a minute. Relief of your symptoms can be expected within a day or two. In the event that the plugs do not prove to be comfortable, they can be easily removed by being flushed from the tear ducts.

Read our article about dry eye syndrome and punctal plugs.

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