What is Ophthalmology ?

Medical specialty dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the eye. The first ophthalmologists were oculists. These paramedical specialists practiced on an itinerant basis during the Middle Ages.

Some ophthalmologists undergo a year or two of fellowship training specializing in one of the many subspecialties of ophthalmology, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cornea
  • Retina
  • Uveitis
  • Refractive surgery
  • Pediatrics
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Ocular oncology

Subspecialist ophthalmologists have usually completed training that allows them to work on eye conditions that are complex, involve a specific part of the eye, or affect certain groups of people. They also train more extensively than regular ophthalmologists to perform extremely intricate surgeries on delicate parts of the eye.

What conditions do they treat?

Ophthalmologists are responsible for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of almost all eye conditions and visual issues.

However, subspecialist ophthalmologists tend to treat and monitor certain conditions, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal conditions, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy
  • Corneal conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Cases involving children or childhood eye conditions
  • Cases with a neurological cause or component, such as optic nerve problems, abnormal eye movements, double vision, and some kinds of vision loss
  • Cases involving complex surgical procedures, such as reconstructive surgery or advanced vision repair

When to see an ophthalmologist

Most people see an ophthalmologist because they are experiencing chronic or severe vision symptoms or signs of eye conditions, such as:

  • Bulging eyes
  • Reduced, distorted, blocked, or double vision
  • Excessive tearing
  • Eyelid abnormalities or problems
  • Seeing colored circles or halos around lights
  • Misaligned eyes
  • Black specks or strings called floaters in the field of view
  • Seeing flashes of light
  • Unexplained eye redness
  • Loss of peripheral vision

A person may also receive a referral to an ophthalmologist if they have conditions or factors that can increase the risk of eye conditions, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of eye conditions
  • HIV
  • Thyroid conditions, for example, Graves’ disease