Doctor or Optometry
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What is a Doctor of Optometry (Optometrist)?

Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines to treat eye diseases.

As primary eye care providers, optometrists are an integral part of the health care team and are an entry point into the health care system. They are skilled in the co-management of care that affects the eye health and vision of their patients and an excellent source of referral to other health care professionals.

The doctor of optometry has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. There are currently 20 optometry schools in the United States.

What is 20/20 Vision?

Some people often believe that if you have 20/20 vision your eyesight is perfect. This is not the case all of the time. 20/20 is the measurement of how clearly you see at a specified distance. If your eye test results are 20/20, it means that you can see an object clearly at 20 feet which should normally be seen at 20 feet. If however, you have 20/100 vision, it means that you have to stand 20 feet away to see what is normally seen at 100 feet away.

The 20/20 test fails to indicate your overall vision status. Thus, you could have what is thought to be "perfect" vision but still have other visual deficiencies or anomalies such as focusing, eye coordination and movement, visual perceptual skills, and color vision among others.

Your Child's Eyes: Get Them Checked Early and Often

Children should have their first eye examination at 6 months of age. During this initial exam the doctor makes sure the eyes are working well together and that they are free of rarely occurring but significant defects-such as cataracts and tumors-that could threaten the child's vision.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, before the child enters preschool, the next exam should take place. At this time the doctor looks for signs of developmental disorders, including "lazy eye," crossed eyes (strabismus), astigmatism, farsightedness and nearsightedness-which triggers difficulties in focusing.

Before the child enters kindergarten is the time for the next examination. At this point the doctor tests for sharpness of vision and corrects deficiencies in vision by prescribing spectacles.

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