An ophthalmologist is a specialist in the field of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of eye diseases. His competence includes any pathology, disorders and disorders of the human visual system. Consultation with a doctor is necessary for both children and adults. Regular prophylactic visits to an ophthalmologist help to avoid problems with eye health, and, if available, identify them in the early stages, making the chances of treatment success as high as possible. The particular danger of eye diseases is that in some cases they can cause a complete loss of vision, which is why the medical activity of an ophthalmologist (he is also called an ophthalmologist) is of considerable value.
Today, in some medical institutions one can see an oculist, in others - an ophthalmologist, and, given that both doctors treat the eyes, this fact confuses patients. When should I go to see an optometrist and what does an ophthalmologist do?
Ophthalmologist and optometrist: what are the differences
The word “oculist” has a Latin origin: oculus means “eye”. “Ophthalmology” is literally translated from ancient Greek as “the science of the eyes” (“ophthalmos” - the eye, “logos” - the science). Therefore, in terms of the etiology of terms, they are synonymous.
So, what do the optometrist and ophthalmologist? Both doctors specialize in ocular pathologies and diseases. Among patients there are different opinions about the difference in competence and qualifications of these doctors, for example, that they are different specialists, that the oculist has a lower level of qualification, or that both of these doctors are engaged in the same medical activity.
In fact, both names are synonymous, and mean the same medical specialization. An optometrist and an ophthalmologist deal with vision problems. The difference in names is mainly due to the fact that both words originated from different languages. Misconception is the view that the optometrist specializes in conservative methods of treatment, and the ophthalmologist deals with surgical operations.
In the countries of Western Europe, the name “oculist” does not occur, but the terms “ophthalmology” and “ophthalmologist” are used, while in the countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe it remains the habit to use the word “oculist”, at least at the household level. Nevertheless, when referring to the official documentation and various qualification characteristics, you can find exactly the name “ophthalmologist”.
In some private clinics and hospitals, advertisers use stereotypes that, supposedly, oculists who receive in other clinics and hospitals are less experienced doctors, and qualified medical care can only be obtained in a particular private medical institution from an ophthalmologist who owns large amount of knowledge. In fact, this is not true.
The difference in qualification takes place only if it is, for example, an ophthalmologist surgeon and an oncologist ophthalmologist.
Science ophthalmology - specialty ophthalmologist
All the activities of the doctor belongs to the field of ophthalmology. This science has a long history: for the first time, a person began studying the anatomy of the eye as early as the 1st century BC. It was then that the first works appeared describing the anatomy of the organs of vision: the anterior and posterior eye chambers, the iris and ciliary body were described. For several thousand years of its existence, the branch of medicine has advanced so much that today you will not surprise anyone with high-precision and complex operations such as cornea transplantation and laser vision correction, which are carried out using various tools.
There are several types of division of ophthalmology as a branch of medicine, the main of which implies the existence of:
- emergency ophthalmology.
The clinical section is engaged in the study and development of methods of conservative treatment of diseases of the organs of vision. The concept of operative ophthalmology includes all processes associated with the preparation for operations on the eyes, their implementation, and the rehabilitation period after surgery. Emergency Ophthalmology deals with acute disorders and pathologies of the optic organs, such as retinal detachment, cornea burns, eye injuries.
What does an ophthalmologist
The first thing the oculist proceeds to is when he accepts the patient - conducting a survey and examining the person who applied to him. After hearing the patient's complaints, the doctor usually asks clarifying questions in order to more fully create a picture of the appearance of disturbing symptoms in order to make a correct diagnosis. Next, the doctor conducts an external eye examination.
External examination is usually done according to this scheme:
- peripheral vision check;
- examination of the eyelids for the presence of edema, swelling, peeling and redness;
- examination of the condition of the eyeball and cornea;
- check the reaction of pupils to light.
However, the specifics of diagnosing eye diseases is that, firstly, only the eyelids and sclera of the eyeballs can be subjected to external examination without using special equipment, while most of the visual apparatus is hidden in the skull box. Secondly, many eye diseases have symptoms similar to pathologies of the nervous system, brain diseases, acute infectious diseases and other health problems. In order to establish the problem with which the patient is forced to seek help, the doctor conducts a specialized examination using various devices.
For example, in the office of an oculist you can find:
- tables for determining color perception;
- automatic refractometer;
- electric ophthalmoscope;
- Binocular ophthalmoscope with forehead fixation for reverse ophthalmoscopy;
- automatic pneumotonometer;
- tonometer applanation Maklakova and other devices.
Examination of the inner surface of the eye is performed using a special microscope. The doctor examines blood vessels, checks the absence of injuries, cataracts and tumor formations. The ophthalmoscope helps the doctor examine the optic nerve, retina, muscles surrounding the eye.
For diagnostic purposes, the doctor measures intraocular pressure, determines visual acuity, examines the retina and measures the thickness of the cornea.
After the initial examination and diagnosis, the oculist decides on the need for inpatient treatment or surgery. If such treatment measures are not needed, the doctor develops a conservative treatment regimen, prescribes medication therapy, special exercises or procedures.
In addition, the ophthalmologist is responsible for conducting preventive examinations in adults and children, is engaged in counseling to prevent the occurrence of eye diseases, as well as, if necessary, develops and prescribes rehabilitation activities for patients undergoing surgical or other types of treatment.
Organs and parts of the body that are treated by an ophthalmologist
This doctor is responsible for the health of the visual organs. Anatomically, this system is represented by:
- over the centuries;
- eye sockets;
- lacrimal organs.
Accordingly, it is these organs that the ophthalmologist treats. Some pathologies of the optic nerve may also fall within its competence, and, in some cases, they are also handled by a neurologist.
Diseases and injuries that are treated by an optometrist
All health problems that fall under the purview of an oculist are divided into two large groups. The first is visual impairment, which manifests as symptoms of other diseases:
- pathologies during pregnancy;
The second group is the diseases of the visual organs. Among them:
- Inflammatory process on the mucous membrane of the eye (conjunctivitis).
- Chronic inflammation of the mucous (trachoma).
- Barley is a painful dense formation with purulent contents on the inner edge of the eyelid.
- Myopia, myopia - visual impairment, in which it is impossible to fully see objects that are at a considerable distance.
- Farsightedness is a visual defect when it is difficult to see objects close by.
- Cataract (clouding of the eye lens), and glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure). Both violations lead to a decrease in visual acuity.
- Color blindness is a disease in which the color perception of surrounding objects is impaired.
- Blepharitis - inflammation of the lower and upper eyelids, expressed in swelling, redness of tissues, and the release of turbid fluid from chapped eyelids.
- Blindness caused by a variety of factors, and injuries to the organs of vision of varying severity.
In addition, the doctor is engaged in the diagnosis and treatment of hemophthalmus, amblyopia, astigmatism, nystagmus, leukemia, strabismus and spring Qatar (seasonal exacerbation of conjunctivitis), eye injuries caused by the ingress of foreign objects or mechanical impact, shock, friction, pressure.
When to contact an optometrist
There are several reasons for visiting a doctor. First, experts recommend once a year to undergo a routine examination by an ophthalmologist. The doctor should check the visual acuity, examine the fundus of the eye, measure the eye pressure. These general measures make it possible to detect possible visual impairment in the early stages, if any, and also to track the general dynamics of changes in a person’s vision. Adults over 40 years old and children should undergo such examination more often - once every six months. The same requirements are true for those suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as for people wearing glasses and lenses.
Secondly, there are reasons when you need to contact an ophthalmologist as a matter of urgency. Symptoms requiring consultation with a doctor:
- blurred vision;
- involuntary lacrimation;
- pain syndromes of any nature, as well as feelings of dryness, burning, irritation, severity;
- the presence of redness of the eyelids or eyeball;
- the vagueness of objects near or far when trying to examine them;
- pain when trying to look at the light (photophobia);
- feeling of presence of a foreign object;
- the occurrence of blurred vision.
The first examination of the oculist in the life of the baby occurs when he reaches two months. During the first years of a child's life, routine visits by an ophthalmologist are a mandatory rule for parents, because it is during this period that the child’s visual system is formed, and it is easier to identify and heal congenital vision pathologies in childhood. The organs of vision are formed up to the age of 12-14 years, therefore preventive examinations during this period should be carried out once every half a year.
A routine examination of the child by an oculist can detect the early stages of development of such ills as glaucoma, strabismus, reduced vision, and impaired functioning of the eye muscles. In the process of such examination, special drops are used that are harmless to children.
Premature babies have a high risk of developing retinopathy - against the background of this disease, the child may completely lose his sight. Therefore, for children born to 34-36 weeks, the first visit to the oculist occurs at the age of 1-1.5 months. The following examinations occur every 2 weeks until the baby is 3–5 months old, unless the ophthalmologist decides that regular visits to the doctor are necessary and beyond.
Such a type of examination as the study of the fundus of the eye, and the study of eye reactions to movement, provide the doctor with information that may later be useful to another specialist, a children's neurologist.
Before enrolling a child in kindergarten or school, an oculist examination is a mandatory routine general medical examination procedure.
With regard to the indications for urgent unscheduled inspections, among them, first of all, getting into the eyes of foreign objects, specks, debris, dust. Other symptoms that parents should pay attention to:
- incomplete closure of one or two eyes;
- the appearance of barley;
- clear strabismus;
- the disappearance of the movement reflex of gaze behind objects at a distance of about 20 cm from the face of the child;
- soreness, photophobia, itching and burning in the eyes;
- involuntary lacrimation;
- constant squinting of the eyes;
- eye or head injury;
- puffiness, itching and redness of the eyelids;
- the appearance of "flies", "lightning" or rainbow circles before your eyes.
Such manifestations are indications for urgent visits to an ophthalmologist.
It is in childhood that it is easiest to correct many disorders: accommodation disorders (presbyopia, accommodation spasm, hyperopia, myopia, astigmatism, accommodative asthenopia).
A rather dangerous situation is when one eye of a baby sees normally and the second one is bad. In this case, the entire burden falls on a healthy eye, due to which strabismus and other pathologies can develop on it.
If a child is diagnosed with astigmatism or farsightedness, the late appointment of corrective glasses to him in the future can cause irreparable vision problems.
It is also important to understand that only a doctor-optometrist (ophthalmologist), in a medical office with all necessary equipment, can carry out full diagnosis and consultation of the visual organs. Promotional tricks of optics stores that invite customers to free diagnostic and therapeutic measures as part of the selection of optics can not be considered a full consultation of the doctor.
General rules for preparing to receive an oculist
First of all, it is necessary to systematize all your symptoms and complaints in order to clearly and in detail describe them to the doctor. It makes sense to take the results of tests and surveys that were done no earlier than half a year before the planned examination by an ophthalmologist. Women, going to the doctor, it is undesirable to use cosmetics. Those who wear lenses should be removed at least one hour before admission, and in general, if possible, it is better to temporarily switch to glasses about a week before visiting the doctor.
Methods of treatment and diagnosis
In addition to the initial survey and examination of the patient, the ophthalmologist uses these types of information gathering about the state of the patient's visual organs:
- visiometry - determination of visual acuity using special tables for vision;
- tonometry - measurement of intraocular pressure;
- tonography - an eye examination for the presence of glaucoma;
- color tests - to exclude the presence of color blindness;
- biomicroscopy - the technique of researching the fundus;
- iridology - examination of the iris;
- autorefractkeratometry - contactless methods for the diagnosis of disorders of the refraction of the eye;
- keratotopography - non-invasive method of obtaining a topographic image of the anterior surface of the cornea;
- pachymetry - contact method of measuring the thickness of the cornea.
In addition to these types of examinations, which the doctor carries out independently, he can prescribe, for example, ultrasound dopplerography of the head, including the visual organs, various tests (complete blood count, blood biochemistry) in order to detect the presence of infectious or inflammatory processes in the body.
After establishing the diagnosis, the doctor determines the treatment regimen for a particular patient. If necessary, conservative treatment, an ophthalmologist develops a system of drug therapy, in some cases prescribes various physiotherapy.
The ophthalmologist is also competent in the field of surgery, in preparing the patient for surgery and its subsequent rehabilitation: he can use laser technology for vision correction or retinal detachment, carry out operations to replace the clouded lens of the eye with an artificial one, stop progressive loss of vision.
The doctor may conduct preventive consultations and activities, prescribe complexes of medical exercises for the eyes.
An optometrist is competent in the selection of lenses and glasses for adults and children. Ophthalmologists, most often, can independently choose the right optics for the patient, while the optometrist cannot perform medical practice, he only determines the amount of deviation of vision and selects the necessary lenses or glasses. Thus, optometry is a narrower division of ophthalmology.
Upon detection of diseases and pathologies that are not related to the field of medical activity of the ophthalmologist, the doctor refers the patient to the appropriate specialist.
An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in the health of the visual organs. It is necessary to turn to him, if worried about the decrease in visual acuity, pain, burning and dryness in the eyes, contact with foreign objects in the eyes, as well as manifestations of pathologies and eye diseases. It is with such problems that the modern man most often faces today. The reason for this is the constant use of smartphones, tablets, computers, long watching TV, reading in dim light, as well as stressful situations and chronic sleep deprivation, which, unfortunately, are an integral part of life.
For both children and adults, a planned visit to an ophthalmologist increases the chances of avoiding possible vision problems, determining the correct diagnosis if there is already a visual impairment, and developing an actual treatment regimen. It must be remembered that the detection of a problem in childhood or in the early stages of its development increases the likelihood of successfully curing it and maintaining normal vision.
For an ophthalmologist it is very important to have an appropriate level of competence and experience, as well as a fully equipped office with all the devices and devices for diagnostics.