A Brief History Of Ophthalmology
The first references to the study of the eye date back 4000 years to the empires of Babylon and Egypt. Around 600 BC, Indian physician Sushruta performed cataract surgery by pushing cloudy lenses out of the line of sight. The first successful removal of cataracts wasn’t completed until 1747 in Paris by French surgeon Jacques Daviel. This feat launched the era of modern ophthalmology.
Say ophthalmologist five times fast
Today’s ophthalmologist is a trained medical doctor specializing in diseases and treatments of the eye. These specialists are required to undergo four years of undergraduate school work before taking on four years of medical school. Graduation also requires a 1-year internship and 3 years of residency in ophthalmology. New eye doctors can also complete a two-year fellowship to specialize in a particular area of the eye.
Upon finishing schooling, ophthalmologists are equipped to treat a wide range of ocular issues and diseases through detailed eye exams. These physicians can prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or medications to address a problem. Should the situation arise, ophthalmologists can perform surgery and perform follow-up care.
What does all that know-how do for me?
Ophthalmologists have the knowledge to uncover both common and rare eye diseases. Many eye conditions are impossible to detect without an eye doctor’s careful analysis. Depending on the severity of the case, a physician with expertise in a particular area may step in to help.
Although not an exhaustive list by any means, here are of some of the most common conditions ophthalmologists are known to see, refractive error, dry eye, cataracts, glaucoma, amblyopia (lazy eye), macular degeneration, retinal detachments, and corneal disease.
I want to see, should I see an ophthalmologist?
The unfortunate truth about eye disease is that damage often occurs well before any indication of a disease is present. Ophthalmologists can discover these conditions before anything irreparable transpires. Anyone with pre-existing eye conditions will likely benefit from routine visits to keep dangers at bay. Surprise pain or sudden loss of vision warrants a trip to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Optometrists are also eye doctors, but with a more limited scope. Optometry still requires 8 years of schooling but forego the more comprehensive training that leads to a medical degree. These physicians are best suited for routine care of the eye and can perform complete exams and vision tests. Optometrists can prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and some medications, but cannot perform surgery.
Opticians work with eyeglasses or contact lenses and help choose lenses and frames as needed. These individuals are not doctors and therefore cannot give eye exams or diagnose and treat visual issues.