Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist: What’s the Difference?

What’s the Difference? Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist:

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

Optometrists and ophthalmologists are highly trained specialists who are trained to care for the human eye. However, there are some distinctions between these two types of eye doctors and what they are specifically trained to do. These differences can be highly important when it comes to which type of eye doctor you choose to see based on the needs you have at the time.

In this post, we will explore the differences between an optometrists and ophthalmologists and which option is better for you based on the needs you have at that specific time:

What Do Optometrists Specialize In?

Optometrists do not have to spend as long in school ophthalmologists, however, the schooling still takes 7 to 8 years to complete and the student also must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to qualify to go to school for this specialty. These doctors can do basic eye examinations and some are able to detect more common abnormalities or issues that you have with your eyes during your routine exam.

A few of these doctors may take an additional one-year specialty that helps them diagnose specific diseases or abnormalities within the eye. However, these doctors tend to specialize in general eye care and are trained to fit both contacts and glasses to people who need vision assistance.

What Do Ophthalmologists Specialize In?

Ophthalmologists specialize in specific disease of the eye. These are physicians who went through 4 years of school and then go on to specialized medical schools to help them distinguish specific conditions of the human eye and how to treat them. To get their ophthalmologist degree, the student must go on past medical school to complete a one-year residency internship in medicine followed by a three-year residency in an ophthalmologist-specific program. 

Ophthalmologists can also fit people for glasses or contacts and do basic eye exams as well. However, they are also able to treat specific conditions of the eye and provide treatment accordingly.

Which Doctor Should I Choose?

When it comes to deciding between an optometrist vs. ophthalmologist, what it comes down to is your personal needs and preferences. Both doctors are well-qualified to provide basic eye examinations and fit you with either contacts or glasses. However, if you have a family history of a lot of eye conditions such as glaucoma or other issues that need treatment, then an ophthalmologist may be your better choice of an eye doctor. They can provide the basic eye examinations as well as the contacts and glasses you may need, and they also will be able to assist you with any conditions of the eye that may appear throughout your lifetime. Moreover, they will be able to determine what treatment will be appropriate for you if a condition that needs treatment arises.

Conclusion:

For further information about whether an optometrist or an ophthalmologist is the best fit for you, it will come down to personal needs. If you have a long history of eye conditions within your family, an ophthalmologist most likely fit your needs the best. If you are just after someone who can provide a basic eye exam and glasses or contacts, then a optometrist may better fit your needs. Either way, both are well-qualified to care for your eyes and protect your vision. If you have more questions regarding the differences between an optometrist vs. ophthalmologist, give Hampton Roads Eye Associates a call at (757) 643-8800, or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Dry Eye Condition Will Have You Itching For Relief

dry eye condition

Almost everyone has had sore, irritated eyes at one time or another. But if the pain and redness just won’t go away, you may have “dry eye” condition.

Normally, when you blink, tears wash smoothly across your cornea, the clear outside part of the eye. Your tears have three layers: an outer oily sheet, a middle watery layer, and an inner mucous film. The oily layer keeps the surface of the tears smooth and protects the water layer from drying out too quickly. The job of the water is to wash away foreign materials that may end up in your eye. But the watery layer could not stick to your eye without the help of the mucus, which spreads the tears across the eye and keeps the eye surface moist. After moving across your eye, excess tears are drained away by small ducts at the inner corners of your eyelids.

Causes

Dry eye happens in two ways–either the eye doesn’t make enough tears or something affects one or more of the tear layers. Many people experience dry eyes as they age, and women are often affected due to the hormonal changes of menopause. Other causes of dry eye condition include medications such as antihistamines and blood pressure drugs, medical conditions such as diabetes and eye infections, long-term use of contact lenses, and environmental factors including smoke and dry wind. Staring at a computer screen without blinking may also cause dry eye.

Symptoms

For most people, the main symptoms of dry eye are having eyes that

  • sting and burn
  • are red and irritated
  • feel scratchy or gritty
  • have mucus strings
  • water excessively, without pain relief.

Diagnosis

Your eye doctor will perform an eye exam, including completion of a medical history, assessment of your eyes, and measurement of tear quantity and quality. Based on this information, your doctor will determine the most effective treatment for your condition.

Treatment

Dry eye treatment focuses on adding tears, saving tears, and treating underlying conditions. To add tears, your eye doctor may prescribe over-the-counter artificial tear solutions; if artificial tears are not enough, the doctor may give you eye medication that increases your tear production. To conserve tears, tiny silicone or gel plugs called punctal plugs may be put into your tear ducts to slow tear drainage. These can be removed later, if desired. If an eye infection is causing your dry eye, your doctor will treat that condition.

To reduce the symptoms of dry eye at home, remember to blink regularly when reading or working at the computer, increase the humidity in your house or office, drink water to avoid dehydration, and wear sunglasses outdoors to decrease wind and sun exposure.

 

If you have questions about dry eye or need to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Treating Glaucoma with iStent Surgery

iStent surgeryHampton Roads Eye Associates is pleased to offer iStent surgery, or  iStent Trabecular Micro Bypass,  for the treatment of mild-to-moderate open angle glaucoma.

iStent is the smallest medical device ever approved by the FDA. The device is placed in your eye during cataract surgery, and is so small that you won’t be able to see or feel it after the procedure is over. iStent is designed to create a permanent opening in your trabecular meshwork, and works continuously to improve the outflow of fluid from your eyes to help control eye pressure.

 How it works: 

  • If you have glaucoma, over time the eye’s natural  drainage system becomes clogged
  • iStent creates a permanent opening through the blockage to improve the eye’s natural outflow
  • Restoring this mechanism lowers and controls pressure within the eye

Benefits of iStent: 

  • Is safely implanted during cataract surgery
  • Spares important eye tissue that is often damaged by traditional surgeries
  • Does not limit treatment options that could help maintain your vision in the future

Our very own Dr. Steven Kitay  is a certified iStent surgeon and will perform this procedure. Download the iStent Patient Brochure to learn more about this procedure.

Summer’s Almost Here – Protect Your Eyes from Harmful UV Rays

Protect-Your-Eyes1Protect Your Eyes from the Sun

Many would agree that our vision is important to our quality of life. Therefor it is crucial to take proper care of our eyes, including protecting them against harmful UV rays.  Hampton Roads Eye Associates in Oyster Point shares some facts about the damage the sun can do to your vision. 

Over time, the sun’s rays can damage the eyes and surrounding skin, sometimes leading to vision loss and conditions from cataracts and macular degeneration to eye and eyelid cancers. However, simple daily protective strategies, including wearing sunglasses, will help keep our eyes and the sensitive skin around them healthy.

Just in time for summer, our optical shop is offering a special promotion on prescription sunglasses. Save 50% off Prescription Sun Lenses with the purchase of a frame OR save 25% off prescription sun lenses only! We are standing by to help you make a selection that will meet your unique needs.

For proper protection, sunglasses should offer the following:

  • The ability to absorb and block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB light. Ideally, they should also guard against HEV light.
  • Sufficient size to shield the eyes, eyelids, and surrounding areas. The more skin covered, the better. Wraparound styles with a comfortable close fit and UV-protective side shields are ideal.
  • Durability and impact resistance.
  • Polarized lenses to eliminate glare, especially when driving, but also out in the snow or on the water, where reflection greatly magnifies glare. Continuing glare can cause fatigue, headaches, and even migraines.

Additionally, be sure to receive routine comprehensive eye exams. Eye exams allow us to monitor your eye health, maintain good vision, and keep you up to date on the latest in UV radiation protection. Schedule yours today!

At What Age Should My Child See An Eye Doctor?

first eye examA common question that parents ask is: What age should my child first see an eye doctor?

Hampton Roads Eye Associates has an answer that is fairly straightforward.

Initial Exam:

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that a child have a  first comprehensive eye exam at their 6 month checkup. This exam will generally be performed by the pediatrician at their checkup. The main objective will be to see if the child is following objects and observing the environment in a normal manner for their age and development.

Next Exams:

Additional eye exams are recommended at age 3 and then again before entering Kindergarten or 1st grade, which is generally between ages 5 and 6.

This is because eyesight is essential for students to be able to learn appropriately as they enter their primary school years.

There are a variety of conditions that could keep children from learning properly during their years in primary school, including:

  • near vision problems
  • distance vision problems
  • a lack of binocular (two eye) coordination
  • a lack of eye movement and following skills
  • a lack of eye focusing skills
  • a lack of peripheral awareness
  • a lack of hand-eye coordination

Schools have required an eye exam for all students entering school for the first time to screen out any vision problems that may exist and inhibit their learning.

What Are the Findings of These Initial Exams?

These eye exams at ages 3 and then again at 5-6 are finding that about 10-15% of school-aged children have some sort of vision issue.

Most of these issues are easily fixed by prescribing corrective eyewear that is determined by your child’s individual needs.  Rarely, a child needs corrective surgery for a vision issue, which would be performed after diagnosis and other, less invasive treatment is attempted.

Tell Your Eye Doctor the Following:

While most eye exams are pretty self-explanatory, be sure to tell your doctor about anything specific that may affect your child’s vision exam.

The following are some key factors your eye doctor may need to know to help provide your child with the best quality eye exam possible:

  • a history of a premature birth
  • any sort of delayed motor development
  • frequent eye rubbing
  • excessive blinking
  • failure to maintain appropriate eye contact
  • inability to maintain a gaze (fixation) while studying or looking at a specific object
  • any poor eye tracking skills you observed

These can all be signs of other problems that your child may be developing with their vision. Our doctors use this information along with the results of their eye exams to determine if issues exist with your child’s vision.

Also, Remember:

Regular eye exams ensure that any issues your child is having with their vision are corrected immediately before these issues impact their ability to function and learn appropriately. Routine eye exams are meant to detect problems and treat them so your child has the best chance to excel in the future.

To schedule a comprehensive eye exam for your child, contact Hampton Roads Eye Associates – Oyster Point at  (757) 643-8800.  Our pediatric specialists are specially trained to detect and treat vision issues in children.

 

When Do I Need To Get Glasses?

glassesIf you’re finding it hard to see clearly, it may be time for a pair of eyeglasses. We use our eyes all the time, from the time we wake up until we go to sleep at night, we watch, read and perceive objects. This is why it is essential to choose the perfect pair of glasses for yourself, as whatever you do, they will be helping you see.

Hampton Roads Eye Associates recommends that as soon as you notice blurred or distorted vision, make an appointment for an exam.  Eyeglasses can help you avoid eyestrain and headaches and can help you improve your performance at work or school.

VISION PROBLEMS CORRECTED BY GLASSES

  • Myopia (nearsightedness) is a vision condition in which close objects are seen clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Nearsightedness occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, has too much curvature. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly and distant objects look blurred.
  • Astigmatism (uneven focusing of light) a vision condition that causes blurred vision due either to the irregular shape of the cornea, the clear front cover of the eye, or sometimes the curvature of the lens inside the eye. An irregular shaped cornea or lens prevents light from focusing properly on the retina, the light sensitive surface at the back of the eye. As a result, vision becomes blurred at any distance.
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness) is a vision condition in which distant objects are usually seen clearly, but close ones do not come into proper focus. Farsightedness occurs if your eyeball is too short or the cornea has too little curvature, so light entering your eye is not focused correctly.

EFFECTS ON SCHOOL, WORK AND PLAY

Poor vision can have an effect on your ability to perform well at school and work. Some children, who are labeled as having ADHD, may actually have an untreated vision problem. Bad eyesight can result in a reduced attention span or in difficult understanding printed material. In addition it can be difficult to clearly see a ball or the positions of your teammates if you have vision problems. Correcting the problem with glasses and help to improve sport performance.

Eye examinations are an important part of health maintenance for everyone. Adults and children should have their eyes tested to keep their prescriptions current and to check for early signs of eye disease.  If you’ve noticed any change in your vision, make an appointment with us for an eye exam by calling 757-643-8800. 

 

Cataracts: The Basic Information

cataracts treatmentClouded vision can be a metaphor for questionable wisdom, or it can be a reality for people with cataracts. Cataracts are like a cloud over the eye’s lens, beginning small but often growing until they negatively affect vision.

Symptoms of cataracts

  • clouded, dimmed, or blurred vision
  • light sensitivity
  • a need for brighter light to read by
  • seeing rings around lights
  • frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
  • double vision when only one eye is open
  • colors appear faded or yellowed

What causes cataracts?

The lens of the eye does the camera-like work of focusing on objects and sending bright, clear pictures to your brain. As you age, proteins on the surface of the lens can clump up. These clumps of protein are the cataracts. They often begin small and unnoticeable, but when they grow to cover more of the lens, the cataracts obscure vision and cause some or all of the above symptoms. Most cataracts develop in the eyes of older people, but they can also be caused by genetics or certain medical conditions. Some habits and/or conditions (such as smoking, alcoholism, obesity, and excessive exposure to sunlight) put people at a higher risk for the growth of cataracts.

Treatments

In the beginning stages of cataracts, the mild symptoms can be relieved with non-invasive treatments such as

  • new eyeglasses
  • brighter lighting
  • anti-glare glasses

However, when the cataracts begin to interfere with your daily activities, such as driving, reading, and using the computer, you and your doctor need to have a talk about cataract surgery. Patients should take their time and learn as much as they can beforehand because delaying the surgery will not make the surgery less effective or harder to perform. Cataract surgery is a very common surgery with a high success rate. The operation to remove a cataract typically lasts less than an hour, and it is nearly painless. Most patients return home the same day.

If you are experiencing vision problems, and you’re not sure if a cataract is causing it or not, schedule an appointment with Hampton Roads Eye Associates.   Hampton Roads Eye Associates in Oyster Point treats patients with beginning and advanced cataracts in their office, providing every treatment option from lenses to laser assisted surgery.  Contact us today at (757) 643-8800.

 

Protect Your Sight with These Eye Health Tips

eye healthYour eyes are the windows to the world. Look into your world with healthy eyes! Hampton Roads Eye Associates knows that following these simple tips will prolong your eyesight for years to come.

Protect your eyes with sunglasses. For maximum protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, check to make sure your sunglasses keep out 100 percent of UV-A rays and UV-B rays. Eyes are sensitive instruments, and direct sunlight can be harsh. Good sunglasses protect the retina, help prevent cataract growth, and protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

Don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your eyes. It has been linked to cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD, an eye disease which involves a damaged retina). Quit smoking and improve your chances of retaining normal eyesight!

Eat right for healthy eyes. It’s fairly common knowledge that carrots are good for eye health. But there are other good foods to eat for maintaining good sight. Try some green, leafy veggies, some salmon or tuna, eggs, nuts, citrus fruits, and oysters. These foods will provide your body with important nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins C and E, lutein, and zinc. These nutrients are known to fight off AMD and other eye diseases.

Practice Good Computer Habits. When you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen, your eyes get strained, vision becomes blurry, you have problems focusing on distant objects, and you may get headaches. Prevent these eye problems by acquiring a few simple habits:

  • Use the 20-20-20 rule. This means you need to look up from the screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  • Try to prevent glare on your screen.
  • Look down on your screen by aligning the top of the screen with your line of vision.
  • Talk to your doctor about computer glasses.
  • Be conscientious about blinking; more blinking helps prevent dry eyes.

Get Regular Eye Check-ups. The best way to keep your eyes healthy is to have an eye doctor examine them regularly. Eye examinations check for various problems, and your doctor can provide tips and treatment for any eye-related health issue. Making sure your eyeglass or contact lens prescription is up-to-date can also save your eyes from unnecessary strain.

If it’s been a while since your last eye exam, please contact us, Hampton Roads Eye Associates Oyster Point,  at (757) 643-8800 for an appointment.  Keeping your eyes healthy with regular eye exams will give you lifelong results.

Macular Degeneration: What Is It?

macular degenerationMacular Degeneration is a disease of the eye that causes progressive vision loss over the course of time. It’s a very common eye problem that is diagnosed more than 200,000 times a year in the US alone. This condition does require a medical diagnosis by a healthcare professional.
Macular degeneration is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, although it can be treated and symptoms are generally very successfully managed. This is usually a lifelong condition.

How Does Macular Degeneration Occur?
Macular degeneration is a condition which causes the field of vision to slowly be lost over the course of time. There are generally two types of macular degeneration: wet and dry.
Dry macular degeneration causes the center of the retina (the part of the eye which allows you to see) to degenerate and the person’s ability to see eventually deteriorates.
Wet macular degeneration is a condition in which the blood vessels under the retina (the part of the eye which allows you to see) become leaky and damage the retina when the vessels burst.

What Are Some Symptoms of Macular Degeneration?
If you consistently experience these symptoms talk to your eye doctor immediately. The most common symptoms of macular degeneration include the following:

  • partial loss of a person’s vision
  • abnormalities in vision where straight lines are appearing in wavy patterns
  • distorted vision
  • the inability to see in dimmer lighting
  • seeing spots

Who Gets Macular Degeneration?
People of all ages can get macular degeneration, however it is much more common with people aged 40 and up. It gets even more common in a person’s senior years, at age 65 or older.

How Is Macular Degeneration Treated?
There is a new study going on with a mix of vitamins and minerals that are mixed together in a solution that are put into the eye via eye drops. This mix of drops is called an AERDS formula and is believed to slow the progression of the macular degeneration.
In other cases surgeries to fix the condition may be a viable option.

Hampton Roads Eye Associates providers are skilled eye care professionals who are well versed in the diagnosis, management and treatment of macular degeneration. If you are having symptoms of or are merely curious about macular degeneration, contact us for an appointment at (757) 643-8800.

5 Tips for Vision Health

vision healthYour eyes are a very important part of your health. Regular visits to your eye doctor provide sneak peeks into what your overall health is like. Doctors can tell if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes just by looking at the back of your eyes. There are many things you can do that will keep your eyes healthy so they will serve you well throughout your life.

Have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Many of us do not recognize vision problems because changes occur subtly and our brains adjust quickly to compensate for these changes. Visiting your eyecare professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to ensure you are maintaining healthy vision.
Often people do not realize they could see better with glasses or contact lenses. Many common eye diseases such as glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and age-related macular degeneration have no warning signs. A dilated eye exam is the only way to detect these diseases in their early stages.

Know your family’s eye health history.
Discuss eye health history with your family members. Knowing a family member has been diagnosed with a disease or a condition is a vital piece of health information. Often, diseases or conditions of the eye are hereditary and this will help determine if you are at a higher risk of developing the same condition.

Eat right to protect your sight.
You’ve heard carrots are good for your eyes. Eating fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens are excellent sources of the antioxidants that help protect your vision. Research shows omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are beneficial to your eyes as well.
Trying to maintain a healthy weight as you age will also decrease your risk for developing diseases that may impact your vision such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Wear your sunglasses.
Sunglasses really aren’t just for looks. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When you purchase sunglasses, make sure they filter out 100% of both UV-A and UV-B radiation. Oversized sunglasses protect the soft tissue around your eyes and polarized lenses make it easier to see in bright sunlight.

Give your eyes a rest.
When you spend large amounts of time focusing on your computer, your eyes can get fatigued resulting in eye strain. To maximize your eye health and avoid eye strain, try the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet in front of you for about 20 seconds. This trick will give your eyes the rest period that it is needed to continue your computer work with minimal detriment to your eye health.

Taking care of your eyes is very important as you age and getting a yearly eye exam is an excellent way to make sure you are staying healthy and problems are caught early. If you have not had a comprehensive dilated eye exam and would like to schedule one online contact Hampton Roads Eye Associates or call (757) 643-8800.