Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between an Ophthalmologist, an Optometrist and an Optician?

  • An ophthalmologist is a doctor-an M.D.-with expertise in medical and surgical eye problems who performs operations on the eyes.
  • An optometrist is a health care specialist who assists patients with the health of the eyes and related vision. Optometrists are trained to prescribe and fit lenses to improve vision. They also diagnose and treat various eye diseases.
  • An optician is a specialized practitioner who designs, fits and dispenses lenses for the correction of a person's vision. Opticians determine the specifications of various ophthalmic solutions-from prescription, to eyeglass frames and lens technology-that will give the necessary and best correction to a person's eyesight.

2. Can all three-ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician-perform an eye exam?

Only an ophthalmologist and optometrist can perform a comprehensive eye exam.  

3. Why is a regular eye exam so important?

Even if you have 20/20 vision, a comprehensive eye exam can be a measure of a person's overall health. The eyes are the only part of the body where arteries and veins can be viewed without having to perform surgery. Eye care providers can see signs of stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain tumors and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.

In addition, they can determine whether a person with age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, or cataracts is suffering also from low vision, which is a condition associated with these age-related eye diseases.

4. What does an eye exam consist of-are there certain things the eye care provider sees when he/she looks into a patient's eyes?

Ideally, the eye examination consists of an external examination, followed by specific tests for:

  • Visual acuity (the ability to detect fine details and is the quantitative measure of the eye's ability to see an in-focus image at a certain distance
  • Pupil function (how light enters the retina)
  • Extraocular mobility (do the eyes move easily up, down, left and right)
  • Visual fields (what is the extent of vision in the peripheral field)
  • Intraocular pressure (does the patient show signs of glaucoma)
  • Ophthalmoscopy through a dilated pupil (allows the doctor to see the interior of the eye-retinaoptic discmacula and fovea, and posterior pole)

5. What are people talking about when they mention the 20-20-20 rule?

A 2012 survey by The Vision Council found that nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults experience some form of digital eye strain while using their electronic devices. Throughout the day, it's a good idea to let your eyes relax by focusing on something other than the computer screen. An easy practice is to use the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

6. What does the eye chart actually measure?

One of the basic measurements most everyone is familiar with is the Snellen chart for 20/20 vision- a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. 

In 20/20 vision, individuals can see at 20 feet clearly what should be seen normally at that distance. Most individuals will be helped by a visit with a low vision specialist when vision reaches 20/70 or worse. With 20/70 vision, an individual must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 70 feet.  Any vision loss interfering with one's visual needs mandates a visit to an eye care provider and a request for help.