An ophthalmologist, an Eye M.D., is a medical doctor with additional specialized training in all aspects of eye care; medical, surgical, and optical. They have completed 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, and at least 3 years of residency in a hospital receiving intensive advanced training in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders.
You should have your eyes examined by an eye doctor if you have:
- Decreased vision, even if temporary
- Flashes of light
- New floaters (black “strings” or specks in the vision)
- Curtain or veil blocking vision
- Haloes (colored circles around lights)
- Eye pain
- Redness of the eye or skin around the eye
- Eye discharge or tearing
- Bulging of one or both eyes
- Crossed eyes
- Double vision
- Family history of eye disease
Many eye diseases do not cause symptoms for months or years. Therefore, regular visits to your eye doctor should be as important as regular visits to your family physician. In many cases, early treatment of glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, crossed eyes and some forms of macular degeneration can prevent loss of sight and even blindness. Your eye doctor’s goal is to protect your sight through early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following intervals when there are no particular problems.
Newborn: By a pediatrician, family doctor, or eye doctor. Infants at high risk for medically abnormal eye conditions should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist.
Pre-school: By a pediatrician, family doctor, or eye doctor.
School age: By a pediatrician, family doctor, or eye doctor.
20-39 years of age: A dilated comprehensive eye exam at least once during this period by an eye doctor. African-Americans and Hispanics who are at higher risk for glaucoma should be examined every 2 to 4 years.
40-54 years of age: At 40 and every 2 to 4 years thereafter by an eye doctor. African-Americans and Hispanics who are at higher risk for glaucoma should be examined every 1 to 3 years.
55-64 years of age: Every 1-3 years by an eye doctor. African-Americans and Hispanics who are at higher risk for glaucoma should be examined every 1 to 2 years.
65 years or older: Every 1 to 2 years. More frequently based on risk factors.
Individuals With Risk Factors: The frequency of ocular examinations in the presence of acute or chronic disease will vary widely with intervals ranging from hours to months, depending on the risks involved, response to treatment, and potential for the disease to progress. The frequency and time intervals will be determined by the ophthalmologist.