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DP: EyeCare Column: Your PECP?

eyecaretermsQ:  Several of my doctors have retired lately so I am seeking new specialists.  For my eyes, I am not sure whether I need an Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist?   How should I choose?

A:  Yours is a great question because it seems so many people really are not sure who does what in eye and vision care!  First, Opticians are the professionals who make your eyewear lenses.   They are skilled in measuring and making corrective lenses for your glasses.  They may be independent, or part of a team in an eye doctor’s office.

Optometrists, actually more accurately called your PECP…..Primary Eye Care Provider… the right choice for most people most of the time.  Everyone seems accustomed to having a PCP….Primary Care Provider….to handle your routine health care.  Your PCP is likely not going to do any surgeries you may need but will make the appropriate referral for consultation and surgical care if needed.  Likewise, your PECP can handle your routine eye care and vision needs.   Your Optometric Physician would be the one to diagnose and treat your vision disorders, eye infections and injuries, and most common chronic eye conditions like glaucoma and diabetic eye care.   If you ever need to have eye surgery or eye injections, your PECP would be the one to choose the best for you and make the referral.

Ophthalmologists are primarily eye surgeons.  They train for many years perfecting techniques for cataract surgery, retinal surgery, eye muscle surgeries, severe glaucoma surgery, and more.   Generally, you would have a consultation with that selected specialist, then surgery if needed, and return to your PECP for ongoing routine eye care.

I would add, you should be sure your new Primary Eye Care Provider in Optometry is able to handle eye disease issues as well as vision problems.   Some eye care in commercial settings like “big box stores” is limited to only vision care and no medical eye care.  Most eye doctors in private practice do handle medical eye care, as well as vision problems.   Just do a little research online, or make a few calls to be sure your new PECP can handle all your eye needs, with the obvious exception of specialty surgeries.

May 15th Post (1)