If you or a family member needs surgery on the eye to treat cataracts, certain diseases of the eye, traumatic injuries, or if you are getting LASIK, you will see an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the eye and has the training and knowledge needed to get you or your loved ones seeing clearly again. Your ophthalmologist may also prescribe eyeglasses or contacts.
Ophthalmologists begin training in medical school. He or she will also spend one year as an intern, as well as perform a three year residency in ophthalmology. It is during their residency that the future ophthalmologist receives their specialized training focusing on the eye. An ophthalmologist may also focus on one of several subspecialties that require an additional two years of training. When this training is completed, the ophthalmologist will have either an M.D. degree or a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree.
There are several subspecialties within ophthalmology. By getting further training, the ophthalmologist is able to focus on a specific area of eye care.
- External Eye Diseases and Cornea – Treatment of external eye diseases, such as infections, tumors, and inflammation that may affect the cornea and all its different parts or eyelids. Includes training for corneal surgery, corneal transplants, and refractive corrections, such as LASIK.
- Glaucoma – Glaucoma is a disease that affects around four million Americans. It can lead to blindness if it is not treated. An ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma treatment will also focus on other diseases of the optic nerve. Medical treatment and disease prevention are performed on people of all ages who may be at risk.
- Pediatric Ophthalmology – Issues that may come up in children or young adults, including genetic abnormalities or traumatic injuries may require an ophthalmologist with a focus on pediatric ophthalmology.
- Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery – Reconstructive surgeries on or around the eye are performed by an ophthalmologist who is also trained in plastic surgery. Those who have suffered an injury or disease that causes a malformation can have this corrected. They are also trained to use chemotherapy, chemosurgery, and radiotherapy for orbital and ocular diseases.
- Neuro-ophthalmology – Deals with the connection between neurologic and ophthalmologic diseases, and how the optic nerve and visual pathways are affected.
- Ophthalmic Pathology – Both an ophthalmologist and a pathologist. They may spend as much time looking into a microscope to identify diseases of the eye as a general pathologist.
- Vitreoretinal Diseases – These are diseases that affect both the retina and vitreous, or internal eye fluid. The ophthalmologist who focuses his or her talent here treats the patient in a variety of ways, including laser therapy, vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous), cryotherapy (lowering the temperature of tissue to destroy the diseased part), and retinal detachment surgery.
For more information read The History of Ophthalmology.
An ophthalmologist is a surgeon or medical research specialist who knows the eye like few others. If you are suffering from a disease in or around the eye, this is the specialist for you.
If you or a family member needs the expertise of an experienced board certified ophthalmologist, please visit our Eye Surgeon Directory to find one in your area.