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What is an ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who has completed college and least eight years of additional medical training. Ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose and treat eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and to prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some ophthalmologists are also researchers in the field of causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders (American Academy of Ophthalmology).
Ophthalmologists can become subspecialists in various fields of eye care and medical conditions pertaining to the eye. Examples of subspecialties in ophthalmology include glaucoma, the retina, the cornea, pediatrics, neurology, plastic surgery, etc. Ophthalmologists are often confused with optometrists, who are not physicians. Optometrists are eye specialists, but have not attended medical school or obtained a medical doctor (MD) degree.
Ophthalmologists can perform vision services and eye exams, provide medical eye care for glaucoma and iritis and other disorders, perform surgical eye care in trauma situations and for corrective surgery needs, diagnose and treat conditions related to other diseases such as diabetes and arthritis, and perform plastic surgery for things like drooping eyelids (American College of Surgeons). Eye exams are the most common service performed by an ophthalmologist. Fees for the services of an ophthalmologist are eligible for reimbursement with a consumer-directed healthcare account.
What are eye exams?
An eye exam is a series of tests, performed by a specialized medical doctor called an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or orthoptist, which assesses vision and the ability to focus on and detect objects visually. Eye exams are also meant to check for eye diseases. Eye exams include the use of bright lights and other instruments.
Eye exams typically include a visual acuity test which involves reading letters from across a room. Eye exams also include a manual visual field test that involve detecting spots of light at various locations which tests for range of vision. A refraction assessment is the part of an eye exam that allows the doctor to write an eyeglass prescription. The medical doctor combines various lenses and instruments during the refraction assessment portion of the eye exam to determine the optimal corrective prescription to improve vision.
The doctor will also conduct a slit-lamp examination during an eye exam which allows them to visually assess the health of the eye. Other eye-health related tests that occur during an eye exam include the applanation tonometry test, which checks for risk of glaucoma by measuring the amount of force required to temporarily flatten the cornea (AllAboutVision.com).