Top Questions Everyone MUST Ask Their Eye Doctor
Most people go to the eye doctor and assume their "doctor" knows best. However, do you know what your doctor's credentials are, or even whether you need to see the doctor you do see? This article will help clear up some of the common myths and mysteries that exist when it comes to your eye exams.
Be sure you read this article carefully. It will empower you to take control during your next eye exam.
Q. Do I need to see an ophthalmologist?
A. Maybe. You can usually see an optometrist, someone with a doctor of optometry, if you need an ordinary eye exam. If you do not have any serious problems with your eyes than his or her credentials are just fine. An ophthalmologist is an M.D. that specializes in caring for people with eye diseases, including cataracts and glaucoma. As you can imagine, seeing a specialist may cost you a bit more than seeing an optometrist. Therefore, if you do not foresee any problems in the near future, you can probably see an optometrist. An optician by the way, is an individual trained to help you select and fit your eyeglasses, and is usually not someone trained to perform your exams, though they may have some knowledge of what tests doctors usually perform in house.
Q. How many tests do I need at the eye doctor?
A. The types of tests you get depend on your medical health and history. If you have not had any major vision problems, there is no reason you should engage in specialized testing. The more common tests most eye doctors perform during an eye exam including an acuity test, to measure how well you see, and a refraction test, allowing your doctor to determine if you need prescription lenses, and if so, how strong they should be. Many eye doctors also perform a test where you cover one eye using a card or paddle and read letters or numbers at a distance. This simple test allows an eye doctor to test the strength of the muscles that allow your eyes to focus. It offers information about how well your eyes focus together and apart. Now, there are other tests, including tests for glaucoma and eye pressure tests that may or may not be necessary. See also our Eye Exam article.
If you are young and have no history of eye disease, always question your eye doctor if they recommend you need a "special" test. A specialty test is often one that costs more money, and may or may not be covered by your insurance. The dilation test, where an eye doctor dilates your pupils to look at surrounding tissues and blood vessels is an important test, but not one everyone probably needs to get every year. Do not have any fear of speaking up and asking whether you really need a test or not. Most healthy people, individuals who have no vision problems previous, do not require some tests like visual field examinations, unless their doctor is led to believe they may have problems seeing correctly. These tests can cost a hundred or more extra dollars, so make sure you need them before you sign papers agreeing to have them performed. On the other hand, if you do have signs or symptoms suggesting you may need this test; your eye doctor has an obligation to tell you. So listen up and pay attention, and do not hesitate to get a second opinion. There is no reason you cannot come back another time to finish your tests.
Q. Can I get away with cheap reading glasses instead of paying for expensive prescription lenses?
A. Most people find it difficult to read finer print as they age. This often results from a common condition called presbyopia. Occasionally, buying a magnifying lens or reading glasses from a drugstore is fine. Just check in with your eye doctor to see what magnification they recommend. The benefit of getting reading glasses from an eye doctor is they make the lens to fit the exact shape of your eye and the way your eye refracts light, so you are more likely to achieve a better result. You do not have to spend a lot of money to get good reading glasses, even if you get them at your doctor's office. A pair of plastic frames and plastic lenses without "add-on" features like anti-glare will work just fine for people working on a budget.
Q. Are progressive lenses better than bifocals?
A. Progressive lenses are different from bifocals, offering different advantages and disadvantages. For someone that wants lenses without visible lines, and lenses that have graduating levels of vision correction, progressive lenses may be just the answer. They are however, more expensive than traditional bifocals, and remember many times you can get away with simple no-line bifocals. That said, some people prefer progressive lenses and have little trouble with some of the more common side effects associated with using them (including headaches or dizziness). You can always try them and see what happens. Your eye doctor is the best person to advise you on the best type of lenses for your eyes, based on the quality of your vision.
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