If you have ever had eye surgery, a trained ophthalmologist did the work. Ophthalmologists take care of both surgical procedures and medical care for eyes because they focus on treating diseases and conditions that affect the anatomy and physiology of the eye. They specialize in treating multiple eye diseases and conditions.
Ophthalmology Training and Education
Ophthalmologists are unique because they have medical degrees and are required to complete a residency like other branches of medicine. Some ophthalmologists do additional training so they can specialize in a certain aspect of the field.
In their training, ophthalmologists learn to do it all in regards to eye care. Their exams for glasses or contact lenses prescriptions are thorough. They offer medical treatment for many eye problems. They do complex and delicate surgeries. They conduct scientific research on eye diseases and vision problems, and they work to find cures for such issues.
Since ophthalmologists are licensed MDs, they practice medicine and surgery, making them different from optometrists. Optometrists simply perform exams and prescribe lenses and medications. Optometrists and ophthalmologists often work together to provide complete eye care.
Some ophthalmologists are specialists in certain areas of the field, making addressing patients' specific needs easier.
Here are some ophthalmology sub-specialties:
- Cornea and external disease - This specialty focuses on diagnosing and treating diseases related to the cornea, sclera, and eyelids. Specialists are trained to do corneal transplant surgery and other types of corneal surgery.
- Glaucoma - This specialty concentrates on medical and surgical treatment of age-related vision disorders such as glaucoma. These disorders can create optic nerve damage through increased ocular pressure.
- Neuro-ophthalmology - This specialty is nonsurgical and focuses on diseases that affect the optic nerve and visual pathways. It can be combined with eye and orbital surgery as it deals with the relationship between neurologic and ophthalmic diseases.
- Ophthalmic pathology - This specialty involves examining tissue samples culled from the eye and adnexa in order to diagnose eye diseases and vision issues.
- Ophthalmic plastic surgery - This specialty focuses on facial and orbital reconstructive surgery, including surgery on eyelids, orbits, certain facial bones, and the lacrimal system.
- Pediatric ophthalmology - This specialty deals with children's vision problems and eye diseases. In this specialty, genetic ocular abnormalities and serious eye diseases can be treated medically and surgically before children reach adulthood.
- Vitreoretinal diseases - This specialty treats diseases affecting the retina and vitreous both medically and surgically. Such diseases can be genetic and systemic. Vitreoretinal ophthalmologists diagnose diseases using ultrasound fluorescein, angiography, and electrophysiology. They treat the diseases with procedures like laser therapy, cryotherapy, retinal detachment, surgery, and vitrectomy.