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!

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.

 

Common eye emergencies and how to treat them

eye emergenciesHave you ever gotten a sliver of metal stuck in your eye? Or maybe you’ve experienced flashes of light in your vision? Many people take their vision for granted until something bad happens to their eyes. Here are some common eye emergencies that bring people to Hampton Roads Eye Associates for emergency care.

Foreign objects in the eye
This could be a metal sliver, an eyelash, or a grain of sand. Whatever it is, it doesn’t belong, and it could be scratching up the cornea. Usually, this is a minor emergency, and it can often be taken care of at home by having someone wash her hands, and then examine the eye carefully by pulling the lower eyelid down and then flipping up the upper lid. Once the foreign object is located, try flushing it out with water.
However, seek professional help if the foreign object

  • has sharp edges,
  • is embedded in the eye,
  • contains chemicals,
  • or was propelled into the eye at high speed.

In a serious case, restrict eye movement by covering the good eye. Also, if the eye is bleeding, use a clean cloth to bandage it. If the bandage presses too tightly against the foreign object, then cover the eye with a paper cup.

Chemical Eye Burns
When the eye or eyelid becomes exposed to chemicals, please take it seriously. Depending on which chemical burned the eye, and how long the exposure lasted, a chemical eye burn could produce lasting damage. There are three types of burns.

  1. Alkali burns from substances such as ammonia and lime can damage both the cornea and the inner eye structure.
  2. Acid burns come from substances like sulfuric acid in an automobile battery or acetic acid in nail polish remover.
  3. Irritants, like pepper spray, cause discomfort but usually not much actual damage to the eye. 

Begin washing the eye out as soon as possible after the chemical burn occurs. Keep washing for at least 10 minutes. Then, seek immediate professional care.

Acute Glaucoma
Acute glaucoma is a sudden increase in pressure in the eye caused by fluids that can’t drain. The pressure could quickly damage the optic nerve, and it could lead to loss of vision. An attack of acute glaucoma is often caused by your eyes dilating too much or too quickly. The symptoms are sudden and can’t be ignored. They include

  • eye pain
  • severe headache
  • nausea
  • blurry vision
  • seeing halos around lights
  • different sized pupils
  • loss of vision

The doctor may use eye drops and/or medication to treat this condition. He also may use a laser to get the fluid flowing again. Only a professional can confirm the onset of acute glaucoma. Contact us immediately if these symptoms occur.

Retinal Detachment
It is an emergency when the retina pulls away from its normal place at the back of the eye. Symptoms of retinal detachment are painless. They include

  • the sudden appearance of many dots and small objects in your vision
  • flashes of light in your eyes
  • a shadow falling over your field of vision
  • your peripheral vision gradually falling away

Seek medical help right away if you believe you are experiencing these symptoms. Treatment for a detachment is usually surgery.

Take eye injuries seriously. Many eye emergencies, when left untreated, can lead to permanent eye damage.
Contact Hampton Roads Eye Associates in Oyster Point for an appointment at (757) 643-8800 if you suffer from any of the listed symptoms. Our board certified providers are available to treat your eye emergency efficiently and quickly.

Health Issues That Can be Found During Your Dilated Eye Exam

dilated examYou know that seeing your eye doctor is the best way to be sure that your eyes stay healthy. During your exam, your doctor may dilate your pupils so he can examine your optic nerves, retinas and blood vessels. Your eye care practitioner can tell a lot about the health of your body by looking at the health of your eyes.

Your Blood Pressure
If during your exam, your doctor notices kinks or tears in the blood vessels of your eyes, you may be asked about your blood pressure. The condition of those blood vessels could suggest undiagnosed or unmanaged high blood pressure (hypertension).

Your Blood Sugar
Bleeding or yellowish fluid leaking in the blood vessels of the eye can signify diabetic neuropathy. Your eye care professional may encourage you to see your family physician for blood sugar screening. Properly managed blood sugar levels could save your vision.

Your Autoimmune System
Characterized by inflammation throughout the body, a dysfunctional autoimmune system can affect your joints, your internal organs, and your eyes. The immune system can attack the blood vessels in the back of the eye and on the retina, which can affect your vision. Anyone who has an autoimmune disorder should have regular eye exams.

Your Thyroid
Graves eye disease, also called thyroid eye disease, is another autoimmune disorder. In this case, the autoimmune issue causes an overactive thyroid. Symptoms could also include swelling around the eyes and protruding eyeballs. If you have a thyroid disorder, you may also notice fatigue, weight loss, and heat intolerance.

Your Nervous System
The optic nerve is the only area of the brain that can be seen from outside of the body. Vision problems could be one of the first signs you might notice if you were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Researchers suggest that optic nerve scans could also provide useful information for other neurological conditions.

Your eye doctor would be able to detect many other health conditions before you were aware of a problem. He can warn you of suspected tumors, aneurysms, or even cancer. Your comprehensive eye exam could be your first indication that you have a more serious health concern that should be investigated by your family physician.  Hampton Roads Eye Associates are experts at providing and interpreting dilated eye exams.  Contact us at (757) 643-8800 to schedule your eye exam today!

What Is Macular Degeneration?

macular degeneration Macular degeneration is a condition affecting central vision, making it increasingly difficult to make out fine details. This is caused by the breakdown of the eye’s macula, the portion of the retina responsible for central vision.

Two types of macular degeneration exist. Dry macular degeneration, which involves a thinning and drying of the macula, is the most common form and accounts for 85 to 90 percent of cases. Wet macular degeneration involves the formation of abnormal blood vessels under the retina, accounting for 10 to 15 percent of cases.

According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, with over 10 million Americans being affected.

What are the symptoms of macular degeneration?

Symptoms vary based on the type of macular degeneration. The Mayo Clinic lists the following symptoms of dry macular degeneration:

  • Visual distortions (such as bent lines)

  • Reduced central vision

  • Need for brighter light to see up close;

  • Difficulty adapting to lower light levels

  • Increased difficulty reading

  • Decreased brightness of colors

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of wet macular degeneration, which usually worsen fairly quickly,  include:

  • Visual distortions

  • Reduced central vision

  • Decreased color intensity

  • Blurry or blind spots

  • General haziness of vision

Regardless of the type of macular degeneration, symptoms may at first be unnoticeable before worsening as macular degeneration progresses.

Who gets macular degeneration?

According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, the chances of having macular degeneration increase with age. Lifestyle risk factors for this condition include:

  • Smoking

  • Being overweight

  • Impaired cardiovascular health

  • Sun overexposure

Genetic factors such as a family history of the condition may also correlate with increased risk.

Treatment for macular degeneration

While there is no cure for macular degeneration, early detection, treatment and checkups can help preserve your visual integrity longer and identify (perhaps before you realize it) whether both eyes have become similarly affected.

Whether you’re experiencing vision issues or just need to schedule your yearly eye exam, our doctors at Hampton Roads Eye Associates Oyster Point can provide the knowledge and care needed to protect and maintain your vision. Please call us today at (757) 643-8800 or schedule your preferred visit time online.

Dr. Andrew W. Lewis, O.D., M.D Designated as a Full Clinical Professor

VA ophthalmologyThe Riverside Department of Medical Education recently designated Dr. Andrew W. Lewis, O.D., M.D as a Full Clinical Professor. We are proud of Dr. Lewis and his dedication to teaching medical students and residents!

Dr. Lewis is honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Riverside Department of Medical Education and to the education of future of medical doctors.

Dr. Andrew W. Lewis, O.D., M.D., is Board Certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He specializes in the treatment of people with severely reduced vision as well as providing general medical Ophthalmology.

Dr. Lewis earned his Bachelor of Science in Optometry and his Doctor of Optometry at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Lewis received intern training at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA, where he also completed his residency in ophthalmology. In addition, Dr. Lewis has served 24 years in the US Navy

2013 Top Doc Awards

2013 top docs awardsWe are pleased to announce that three of our doctors have been named Top Docs of Hampton Roads for 2013.

Please join us in congratulating:

Dr. Denise R. Chamblee, M.D.

Dr. Steven E. Kitay, M.D.

Dr. Gary Tanner, M.D.

Every year Hampton Roads Magazine complies a list of the best doctors to help patients chose the best care for themselves and their families.  The survey conducted for this year’s list was done exclusively for Hampton Roads Magazine.  This year 3 of our practitioners have received the 2013 Top Doc award!

According to Hampton Roads Magazine, “Consumers’ Checkbook surveyed all active office-based doctors on the American Medical Association mailing list for the Hampton Roads area. It asked each surveyed doctor to explain which one or two specialists, in each of 41 different specialty fields, he or she ‘would consider most desirable for care of a loved one.’ The list of top doctors contains the names of physicians who were mentioned multiple times.”

The survey received approximately 226 doctor nominations. Those who received the most votes in each specialty are listed as Top Docs. We are proud of our 2013 Top Doc award winners, and are so pleased to have them as a part of the Hampton Roads Eye Associates Team.  Their skilled and caring practice of medicine is what makes our practice the best in the area, and we will continue to strive to be the best in what we do.  

Once again, congratulations to Dr. Chamblee, Dr. Kitay and Dr. Tanner!