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. 

 

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.

The Truth About “Lazy Eye”

lazy eyeContrary to popular belief, the condition that people coined as “lazy eye” is a visual impairment rather than an oddity in the eye’s shape or position. A person can have lazy eye without it being recognizable by someone else’s naked eyes. Severe cases, however, sometimes show apparent visual signs that the two eyes are not performing the same functions with the same precision.
The scientific name for lazy eye is amblyopia, and it occurs in up to three children out of every hundred, according to the National Eye Institute. It is a condition that causes a reduction in vision abilities. The problem does not seem to respond to treatment with glasses or contacts, and it does not appear to be the product of an eye disease.

What Causes Lazy Eye?
Many factors can cause lazy eye. Strabismus, which is a disorder that crosses the eyes, could contribute to lazy eye. Many people confuse lazy eye with strabismus, but the conditions are separate and completely different. The condition could also come from nearsighted and farsighted variations between the two eyes where one is worse than the other. Specialists do not have an exact ironclad cause for lazy eye. Their summation is that the brain loses its controlling connection with one of the eyes for some reason.

What Are the Symptoms of Lazy Eye?
Lazy eye symptoms vary from subtle symptoms like squinting with one eye, to apparent symptoms such as eyes that wander and don’t seem to be acting as a team. A person who is suffering from lazy eye will have poor vision test results. The person will have a decline in capabilities that may gradually worsen, as well.

How to Treat Lazy Eye
Untreated lazy eye can result in permanent loss of eyesight in one eye. Therefore, it’s imperative that a person gets evaluated if he or she suspects the problem. Solutions such as patches and medications are available in addition to some training exercises. If you or your loved one is showing the symptoms of lazy eye, give a provider a call to get evaluated as quickly as possible.

Your eye specialist at Hampton Roads Eye Associates is qualified to diagnose and treat lazy eye.  If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or your child, contact us for an appointment at (757) 643-8800.  

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 can an eye exam tell you about your health?

eye exams and healthYou know that seeing your eye doctor is the best way to be sure that your eyes stay healthy. During your exam, your eye 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.  Early detection is important for treatment for these critical medical issues.  If you have a known medical condition, be sure to see your eye care provider as often as recommended, and notify him of any changes in your health.

Hampton Roads Eye Associates provides qualified eye care professionals who are trained to identify major health issues during your eye health exam.  Please schedule an appointment with us today, at 757-643-8800.  Our board certified ophthalmologists are ready to help you with your eye care health and treatment.