According to the American Optometric Association:

Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient’s ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines to treat eye diseases.

As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team and an entry point into the health care system. They are skilled in the co-management of care that affects the eye health and vision of their patients and an excellent source of referral to other health care professionals.

The optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete a residency.

In most cases the answer is “Yes!” There are several new lenses on the market made especially for people with astigmatism. Depending on your prescription, the Doctor may be able to fit you into disposable, frequent replacement, daily wear or even colored contact lenses.

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends infants have their eyes examined at 6 months of age, then again at 3 years of age and once again before entering the first grade. After this, children should be examined every two years. For those individuals between 18 and 40 years of age, it is recommended that they have their eyes checked every two or three years. Between 41 and 60 years of age the recommendation is every 2 years. After age 61 the AOA recommends having an eye examination every year.

It is important to identify eye conditions at an early stage so that treatment can be initiated as soon as possible. Many eye conditions can be easily corrected if detected early. During your baby’s eye exam, the optometrist tests for large or unequal amounts of astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. She will also observe your child’s eye movements and check for any eye health problems.

Vision is measured by using a visual acuity chart. The chart is placed at the equivalent of 20 feet from the patient. The examiner then measures the size of the smallest object the patient is able to discern. The first number recorded indicates the distance from the patient to the object. The second number refers to the size of the object. Therefore, someone with 20/200 vision can see an object 200 units in size from a distance of 20 feet while someone with 20/20 vision can see an object 20 units in size (much smaller) at the same distance. Also, a person with 20/200 vision sees something at 20 feet that a person with 20/20 vision can see at 200 feet.

Absolutely! Many eye diseases or disorders have an asymptomatic onset. It is best to detect these conditions and initiate treatment during early stages to avoid or minimize visual impairment.

The pupil is actually an opening within the iris which regulates the amount of light entering the eye. Under normal circumstances, the pupils constrict, or become smaller, when exposed to bright lights. During an eye examination, the Doctor uses a light source to view the retina and other structures within the eye through this opening. Only about 10% of the internal structures of the eye can be viewed while the pupils are in their natural state. During a dilated examination, eye drops are put into the eyes which cause the pupils to become temporarily enlarged. Dilations allows the Doctor to observe 80-90% of the retina and other internal structures of the eye for various conditions such as retinal detachments, retinal holes, retinal tears, multiple sclerosis, tumors, hemorrhages, vascular occlusions, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.

Anyone under the age of 59 should have a dilated eye exam at least every other year. Those who should be dilated more frequently include persons with certain systemic conditions such as diabetes, a family history of certain eye diseases, a history of head or eye trauma, anyone with large amounts of nearsightedness (over -4.00), those taking certain prescription medications, persons over age 60 and those experiencing recent changes in their vision.