How To Choose an Eye Doctor
Whether you are noticing changes in your eyesight or it’s time to schedule a routine eye exam, choosing an eye doctor is the most critical step to ensure quality care.
Once you find a good eye doctor close to home, then you always have a trusted provider to visit through the years. But there are times when choosing a new eye doctor is necessary. For example, if you have recently moved or need to find a provider who offers specialized services.
Where should you look to find professional care for your eye care needs? Search in Google, and you will find multiple offices in your area. With so many eye doctors available, how do you pick a provider that is the best fit for your family?
Follow these tips to choose an eye doctor so you can have confidence in the quality of service you are receiving.
Tip #1: Know the Different Eye Care Providers
It’s important for patients to understand the type of provider they are seeing because the skill set and available services vary depending on the eye doctor you choose.
The phrase “eye doctor” is a general term that people use, but there are actually distinct professional services you need to know about:
- Optometrist: An optometrist is a general provider who performs routine eye exams and tests to identify various eye diseases in the earliest stages. Eye doctors help with vision correction by prescribing glasses or contact lenses to help you see better. Optometrists are not medical doctors – they have a doctor of optometry degree (OD).
- Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist focuses on diagnosing and treating eye diseases specifically. An ophthalmologist completes both medical school and residency. They can provide the same services as optometrists, and they are also licensed to perform surgery and practice medicine.
- Optician: Even though opticians are eye care professionals, they aren’t considered “eye doctors.” These technicians offer support to an eye doctor, helping patients with fitting glasses and contact lenses. Opticians work in the office, but they are not trained or qualified to offer medical care.
Which type of eye doctor do you need to see? Often, families choose optometrists for general eye care services. But there is an advantage to selecting an ophthalmologist instead because you can receive both general eye care and medical services in one convenient location.
There are often situations where optometrists need to refer patients to visit an ophthalmologist because the patient’s eye condition goes beyond the general services offered by an optometrist.
Make sure you know what type of eye doctor you need when choosing a provider for yourself or a family member.
Tip #2: Ask About the Doctors Qualifications and Experience
Find out more about the provider you are planning to visit. You can ask a few questions when booking the appointment to find out more about the provider you will be visiting.
- Where did they attend optometry or medical school?
- How long have they been working in an eye care office?
- Does the eye doctor have specialty training or specific skills?
Tip #3: Is the Eye Doctor Staying Current with Modern Technology?
It goes without saying that the eye care industry has changed so much in recent years. The development in technology makes it possible for eye doctors to have in-office tools and equipment to optimize the overall experience for each patient.
As eye care technology continues to improve, make sure you visit an eye doctor committed to staying current in the industry.
The best eye care teams leverage new technology to provide cutting-edge services to their patients.
Not only does modern technology help you feel more comfortable during the appointment, but these tools also improve the accuracy and speed of your diagnosis.
Visiting an eye doctor with modern technology and related experience means that you can save money in the long run because of how quickly and effectively they can complete your diagnosis.
Tip #4: Ask for Recommendations
Word of mouth is always a great way to find a trusted eye doctor or another provider. If you need to see an eye doctor, you might reach out to friends and family members to see if anyone has recommendations.
These personal references can be great, especially when you trust the person who is providing the recommendation.
A better solution is to ask your primary care physician for a referral. For example, suppose your primary care provider is helping with diabetes management. In that case, they might also provide a referral to a local ophthalmologist so you can have your eyes monitored as well.
It pays to do the research and request a recommendation, ensuring that you receive the quality care that you desire.
Tip #5: Read Online Reviews
Not only is the internet a great resource to find local providers, but you can also use the search engines to see what other people are saying about the eye doctor you are considering.
Reading online reviews is like talking to a friend for a referral. Other people post information about their experiences online to give you an idea about what you can expect if you choose this specific eye care provider.
Tip #6: Ask About Availability
When you need eye care services, you don’t want to wait for months before you can see an eye doctor. Ask about the provider’s availability so you can get the prompt service you deserve.
Yes, it’s a good sign when an eye doctor is busy because it probably indicates that the doctor has many long-term patients. In addition, the ongoing relationship between patients and their doctors is a good sign of trust and quality services.
At the same time, you need to make sure that your eye doctor will be able to fit you into the schedule when you need an appointment. If you find that your provider is never available, it might be best to find another eye doctor.
One option to consider is to choose an eye care clinic with multiple providers. Having several eye doctors in the office improves the likelihood that you will be able to schedule a short-notice appointment when needed.
For example, if you have an eye care emergency and your regular eye doctor is out of town, you can visit with one of the other providers in the office instead.
Tip #7: Check Pricing and Insurance Coverage
Cost is always a factor when you are seeking medical services. If you have vision insurance, the first step is to learn more about your coverage.
Ask questions about how to choose an in-network eye doctor. Then, you can reach out to the insurance provider for more information. Or, talk to the staff at the eye clinic you are considering, and they can help you understand available coverage.
Price matters, which is why you should always know your anticipated out-of-pocket costs before scheduling the appointment. There’s no point in booking an appointment with a doctor who is out-of-network unless you are ready to pay for the appointment in full.
It’s also a good idea to learn more about the cost of the services you will be receiving. Asking about price is especially important if you don’t have vision insurance and you will be paying for the services on your own.
Remember: your vision health is a critical part of your wellbeing. However, it’s an investment to pay for the quality services you need to protect your eyes.
Tip #8: Consider Personality and Bedside Manner
While the eye doctor’s training and experience are some of the most important factors to consider, it’s also wise to make sure that you have a good personality fit.
When you walk into the eye care clinic, do you experience a welcoming, positive atmosphere? Of course, you need to be comfortable during your appointments, which is why you should consider the provider’s bedside manner.
Most patients want to work with patient-focused, professional, and supportive doctors. The best outcomes happen when an eye doctor partners with each patient in creating a personalized treatment plan based on the person’s unique needs and preferences.
Which Eye Doctor is Right for You?
Optometrists offer the services you need if you are looking for a routine eye exam or contact lens fitting. But keep in mind that the available services are limited if there isn’t an ophthalmologist in the office as well.
Since optometrists provide general eye care services, there is a possibility that you will be referred to another eye care clinic if you need eye surgery or specialized medical care.
An ophthalmologist is an excellent solution if you are looking for a convenient provider who offers everything you need in one office. Remember that ophthalmologists can help with everything an optometrist provides: prescriptions, checkups and examinations, diagnosis, and more.
Signs You Need to Visit an Eye Doctor
How do you know when it’s time to schedule an eye care appointment? It’s recommended for most people to schedule a comprehensive eye exam every few years. But more frequent appointments are necessary if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or glaucoma.
Here are a few indications that you should book an appointment with an eye doctor:
- Eye Infection: Always visit an eye doctor right away if you have any signs of an eye infection, such as eyes that are swollen, red, or irritated. Eye infections require medical treatment to avoid complications that could impact your vision.
- Blurry Vision: Are you having a hard time seeing? If it feels challenging to focus, you should schedule a vision test as soon as possible. You might need a new prescription, or there could be an underlying eye disease that is affecting your vision.
- Sudden Changes in Vision: When your vision changes suddenly, then it’s possible that you could be experiencing a medical emergency. Watch for signs like obstructions in your vision, flashes of light, unexpected blurriness, floaters, or anything else that seems unusual.
- Headaches or Eye Strain: Headaches aren’t always connected to vision issues, but this symptom could be an indication that something is going on with your eyes. Schedule an eye exam to rule out problems with your eyes. Your eye doctor might also recommend that you talk with other medical providers to get to the root cause of your pain.
- Itchy, Dry, Red Eyes: If you have dry eye syndrome, an eye doctor can help with treatment options. The goal is to identify the underlying issues that are contributing to your symptoms. For example, allergy treatments could reduce dry eye symptoms.
- Something in Your Eye: When a foreign object is in your eye and causing irritation, you need to flush the eyes as soon as possible to avoid damage to the eye. Hopefully, flushing with clear, cool water will wash away the dirt or debris. If not, it’s best to visit an eye doctor to remove the object from your eye.
- Painful Eyes: Mild or infrequent eye pain isn’t a severe cause for concern. But if your pain is ongoing or intense, it’s time to schedule an eye exam to identify the underlying issues. Eye pain can be a warning sign for serious health problems.
Schedule an Eye Exam at EyesNY
Maintaining good eyesight is vital at every age. However, no matter your current vision or eye health, it’s essential that you are proactive about comprehensive eye exams. These tests are helpful to identify possible vision issues in the earliest stages.
Eye doctors help with diagnostics and prescription management. At the same time, they assist patients in preventing eye care issues in the future. Our goal is to educate each client about lifestyle and habits to protect their eyes from injury while reducing the risk of eye diseases.
If you are looking for a local eye doctor, we invite you to contact us at EyesNY to learn more about available services. Your convenience is our priority, which is why we offer locations. Our team is just a phone call away and ready to help the entire family with eye care services.