There are almost 25 million Americans who have been diagnosed with cataracts at some point in their lives. There are also nearly 3 million people who have been diagnosed with glaucoma.
If you fall into either of these categories, then you should already know how important it is for you to see an Ophthalmologist on a regular basis. An Ophthalmologist can help you deal with conditions like cataracts and glaucoma accordingly.
But just because you haven’t been diagnosed with these kinds of conditions in the past doesn’t mean you should discount the idea of making an appointment with an Ophthalmologist. You could also benefit from doing it if you suspect that you might have an issue with your eyes.
Let’s take a closer look at what an Ophthalmologist is before checking out a few of the classic signs that will show that you need to go and see one.
What Is an Ophthalmologist?
Before we discuss some of the signs that’ll let you know you need to see an Ophthalmologist, it’s important for you to understand what an Ophthalmologist is and what one does.
An Ophthalmologist is not the same thing as an Optometrist. An Optometrist is an eye doctor that can perform exams on your eyes to let you know if you have vision problems. They can then prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to you.
An Ophthalmologist, on the other hand, can also perform eye exams and even prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses to you. But they can also take things a step further by performing eye surgery to correct certain eye conditions.
A good Ophthalmologist can diagnose, treat, and monitor any number of eye conditions. They can help you if you’re suffering from:
- Dry eyes
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
- Retinal detachment
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
An Optometrist would not be able to assist you with regards to treating any of these eye conditions through surgical procedures. But an Ophthalmologist can provide you with the medical attention you need to take care of these conditions.
See an Ophthalmologist If…
Many people cringe when they hear the words “eye surgery” and put off taking a trip to see their local ophthalmologist. But you shouldn’t avoid an ophthalmologist if you suspect you might have a serious eye condition.
Here are seven signs that it’s time to see an Ophthalmologist.
1. You Recently Suffered a Sudden Loss of Sight
It’s not uncommon at all for people to experience a loss of sight over time. Almost 1.5 billion people across the world suffer from some form of vision impairment.
But you should be concerned if you suffer from a sudden loss of sight that takes place seemingly out of nowhere. Whether you lose your vision in one eye or both eyes, it’s a clear-cut sign that you need medical assistance.
In some cases, vision loss could demonstrate that you have suffered a stroke or another major medical issue. But it could also indicate that there is an underlying problem with your eyes that needs to be addressed.
Sudden vision loss can take place in many forms. You might experience:
- Blind spots
- Double vision
- Tunnel vision
- Blurred vision
- Seeing a curtain blocking some aspect of your vision
An Ophthalmologist can run a series of tests on your eyes to see what the problem appears to be. In many instances, these types of vision loss will show that you’re dealing with a problem like glaucoma or retinal detachment.
The sooner you see an Ophthalmologist, the sooner they can figure out what’s wrong and put a plan into place to restore your vision. But if you steer clear of seeing an Ophthalmologist for weeks or even months on end, you could put your vision at risk and even lose your vision altogether.
2. You’re Experiencing Pain in One or Both of Your Eyes
Are your eyes itching or burning right now? There is a decent chance that you could be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from eye allergies.
There is also a chance that you might be working your way through a fight with infectious conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye. Either way, there are eye drops and other medications you can use to make the itching and burning go away.
But if you’re experiencing actual pain in your eyes, you should not write it off as “just allergies.” Pain in one or both of your eyes could be a sign of a serious medical condition that needs to be dealt with sooner than later.
Many people who suffer from eye pain are diagnosed with conditions like glaucoma and corneal abrasion. But the only way you’re going to know if you have one of these kinds of conditions is by meeting with an Ophthalmologist.
If one of the first things you think when you wake up every morning is, “My eye hurts!”, you shouldn’t ignore it. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to having eye pain examined.
3. You See Flashes of Light When You Look Around
If you’re looking around on the 4th of July and seeing flashes of light all around you, that’s perfectly normal. It’s more than likely fireworks lighting up the sky.
But if you see these kinds of flashes of light around you at all times, that’s not something you should put on the backburner. You should have an Ophthalmologist check out your eyes as soon as you can to see what is causing the flashes of light to appear.
Some people will only see a single flash of light in one specific area. Others will see several flashes of light at one time spread out across their entire field of vision. Both of these things could be signs of a potential problem.
Flashes of light could indicate that you have suffered a retinal tear. You could also be dealing with retinal detachment. Regardless, it’s essential for you to have an Ophthalmologist look at your eyes and decide the best course of action for you.
4. You Have “Floaters” in Your Field of Vision
Have you noticed that you’re seeing tiny specks in your field of vision when you take a look around you? The specks are known as “floaters,” and they can start to take a toll on people as they become older.
Floaters start popping up in a person’s field of vision when the gel-like vitreous in their eyes begins to become liquidy over time. The fibers in the vitreous will often clump up and cast shadows that affect the retina. It’ll make it appear as though you’re seeing shadows as a result of the changes to your vitreous.
Some people are able to get rid of floaters simply by moving their eyes up, down, and all around. But if your floaters keep coming back and causing vision problems for you, you shouldn’t hesitate to call on an Ophthalmologist.
An Ophthalmologist can inspect your eyes to see if retinal detachment or retinal traction might be to blame for your floaters. If they are, they can make your floaters a thing of the past.
It’s worth noting that floaters tend to affect lots of elderly people. Anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of people experience changes to the vitreous in their eyes by the time they turn 65, and around 15 percent of them experience symptoms of floaters.
5. Your Eyes Have Become Very Sensitive to Light
Does it feel like your eyes have become very sensitive to light in recent months? Your solution to this problem might be to stay out of the sun and avoid looking directly into light sources.
This will help control your sensitivity to light to some degree. But if you ignore this issue for a long time, it could cause further complications with your eyes over the years.
Light sensitivity is something that many people with cataracts experience. They’re unable to handle too much light pouring into their eyes at one time.
Those with cataracts may also experience other symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Cloudy vision
- Double vision
- Night blindness
- Seeing halos located around light sources
As we mentioned earlier, there are tens of millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with cataracts. It’s possible to prevent them from wreaking havoc on your life.
But in order to do it, you need to make time to see an Ophthalmologist right away.
6. Your Family Has a History of Eye Disease
If you go above and beyond to take good care of your eyes, you might be under the impression that you don’t have to worry too much about being diagnosed with eye conditions.
To some degree, you’re right. You can help prevent some eye conditions from having an effect on you.
But studies have also shown that there is a strong connection between genetics and certain eye conditions. That means that you can end up dealing with these eye conditions if others in your family have been diagnosed with them, no matter how careful you are about caring for your eyes.
Some of the most common inherited eye conditions are:
- Congenital cataracts
- Retinal degeneration
- Optic atrophy
- Macular degeneration
Talk to your parents or other family members about any history of family eye disease that might exist. Schedule an appointment with an Ophthalmologist as soon as you can if you find that genetics could have an impact on your eyes.
7. You’re Over 40 and Have Never Seen an Ophthalmologist
All of the eye conditions that we’ve mentioned here can affect people at any age. But you’re more prone to dealing with most eye conditions as you get older.
This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all adults over the age of 40 set aside time to see an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist can talk to you about how often you should come back for appointments following your initial eye exam.
The AAO also recommends that those over the age of 65 make an effort to see their Ophthalmologist at least once every year or two to check for signs of conditions like cataracts and glaucoma.
Additionally, everyone—regardless of age—should see an Ophthalmologist on a regular basis if they suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure. These conditions can increase people’s chances of experiencing certain eye conditions.
What Should You Expect During an Ophthalmologic Exam?
There is one thing that stops a lot of people from visiting with an Ophthalmologist: Fear. People are afraid of what’s going to happen to them when they step into an Ophthalmologist’s office for an ophthalmologic exam.
It’s natural to be a little bit apprehensive prior to going through a comprehensive eye exam for the first time. But it helps to know what to expect. Go here to learn more about how your exam will go.
Generally speaking, your Ophthalmologist will put you and your eyes through a series of tests during an appointment. Some of the tests that you might go through will include:
- Color blindness test
- Visual acuity test
- Ocular motility test
- Cover test
- Stereopsis test
There isn’t anything to be afraid of when it comes to having your eyes tested. A good Ophthalmologist will explain each test that is going to be performed and keep you comfortable throughout your exam.
Make an Appointment with an Ophthalmologist Today
There is no reason for you to be worried about making an appointment with an Ophthalmologist. In fact, you should be more worried about not making an appointment and allowing an eye problem to get worse.
Stop putting off your plans to see an Ophthalmologist and make an appointment today. By doing it, you can make sure that conditions like cataracts and glaucoma don’t have a serious impact on your vision moving forward.
You can also prevent eye conditions from spiraling out of control and impacting other areas of your health. Contact us today to schedule time with an Ophthalmologist in one our Orlando-area offices.