An optometrist is the eye doctor you visit if you are experiencing any problems with your eyes. These problems can include blindness, far- or short-sightedness, cloudy vision, difficulty reading, difficulty seeing at night or during the day, highly sensitive eyes, headaches that seem to be coming from your eyes, black stripes or spots in your vision, etc.
What to Expect in an Optometrist Clinic
When you visit the optometrist clinic, you are expected to inform the optometrist of your symptoms, after which he or she will ask you questions. Try to answer the questions in as much detail as possible because they help the optometrist get information about your eye and general health. The answers to these questions also guide the optometrist on what to look for during eye tests and examinations.
Your optometrist then starts performing the tests. The first test uses a Snellen chart to test whether you might have a refractive error (it causes short- or far-sightedness). You are asked to stand or sit at a particular distance from the Snellen chart and try to read different letters and numbers printed on it.
The second test may utilise either a retina camera or an ophthalmoscope to get a better visual of the interior of your eye. There are no injections during these tests, but the optometrist may need to place an eye drop in your eye to dilate your pupil for better viewing; this is painless.
Test and Examination Results
Once all tests are complete, your optometrist discusses the results with you.
First, he or she gives you the results of the Snellen chart test, which can be that you passed or you have a refractive error. If you have a refractive error, the optometrist uses another instrument called a phoropter to find out which lens number can correct your refractive error. This lens or eyeglass number is what is printed on the prescription glasses form that you are required to take to an optician for prescription glass design and fitting.
Secondly, your optometrist discusses the results of what was found inside your eye. It can be a minor eye problem that can be treated with drugs or lifestyle changes. It can also be a major problem that requires eye surgery or advanced eye treatment.
If you need eye surgery, you are referred to an ophthalmologist. The major difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist is that the latter can conduct eye surgery, while an optometrist cannot.