Ophthalmologist & Optometrist: what does it mean when you are considering PRK or Epi-LASIK?

Whether you are looking for general eye health care, eyeglass prescriptions, or laser vision correction such as LASIK, PRK, or Epi-LASIK, it is important to understand who is caring for your eyes.

“Eye Doctor” can mean an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.  The main differences are:

Ophthalmologist

  • has an M.D.
  • has completed 4 years of medical school + 4-5 years of residency
  • some will have completed additional 1-3 years of fellowship training
  • may provide general eye care, surgery, or specialized care
  • sub-subspecialities include: glaucoma, retina, cornea, plastics
  • in addition to surgery, can prescribe a wide range of medications
  • can order specialized testing such as CT, MRI, X-ray, blood work
  • find an Eye MD

Optometrist

  • has an O.D.
  • has completed 4 years of optometry training  in addition to university
  • may provide general eye care as well as prescribing glasses and contacts
  • often will comanage with ophthalmologists
  • can prescribe glasses and contacts and some medications
  • can refer to sub-speciality ophthalmologists such as retina or glaucoma
  • find an optometrist

In many laser vision correction centres the initial assessment is done by an opometrist with experience in refractive surgery.  At Western Laser Eye Associates all potential laser vision correction candidates are seen by an ophthalmologist in order to insure they are a good candidate for surgery.

In some cases it can be helpful to comanage with both an optometrist and ophthalmologist.  For example some people from smaller towns may not have convenient access to an ophthalmologist.  In these cases an optometrist can do preliminary testing to determine if laser vision correction may be an option.  It it is not a good option due to the degree of correction or other eye health issues then it may save the time and travel to attend an assessment.  In cases where laser vision correction is a good option, you may return to your optometrist closer to home for follow up care.

Co-management between an ophthalmologist and optometrist works well for a number of common eye conditions.  The key to successful comanagement is good communication between you, your ophthalmologist, and your optometrist.

If you are interested in booking a complimentary laser vision correction assessment with Dr. Anderson Penno, contact Western Laser Eye Associates.

 

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