Optometrist | What we do Today
Optometrists are health care professionals serving as primary care providers for eye care. Primary care providers are the initial entry into the health care system and function to treat the common vision and eye diseases seen. In the event there is a need for more complex treatment, such as invasive surgery into the eye, or uncommon eye diseases, optometrists refer patients to secondary providers such as ophthalmologists and neurologists who specialize in specific problems with the visual system. Optometrists perform eye examinations to determine the refractive status of the eye and determine the health of the eyes. Optometrists determine the need for prescription eye glasses by computer analysis of the eyes optics and refinement with an instrument capable of over one million different prescriptions. This is a forced choice test where you are requested to give a verbal response on which view appears better, one or two. An optometric exam also measures the eye pressure as one test for glaucoma, a microscopic exam of the front half of the eye, and a view of the posterior part of the eye, often with the aid of dilation drops.
Fort Collins Optometry Dry Eye Services For Northern Colorado
Only a very small number of optometry eye clinics provide dedicated services for dry eye treatment. We have developed the Dry Eye Clinic of Northern Colorado to address the rapidly growing epidemic of dry eye syndrome in the Fort Collins Region.
Optometric Eyeglass and Contact Lens Services
Most optometry offices include an optical dispensary where glasses can be fitted and provided with the appropriate prescription for the patient. Optometrists may order lenses from an outside lab or fabricate them entirely on site.
Contact lenses are also fitted and measured by optometrists. There is normally a contact lens service that provides diagnostic lenses to wear for a short time period before the contact lens prescription is finalized. Most offices provide annual contact lens supplies after a lens is fit.
Other Optometry Special Services
Other services provided by optometry include treatment of eye diseases. Laws vary from state to state as to which prescription eye drops can be used and what conditions can be treated. Currently 44 states also allow oral drugs to be used by optometrists in treating eye and eyelid disease. Oklahoma has allowed optometrists to use laser procedures for several conditions for a number of years. In Colorado, we have good legislation and can treat the majority of eye problems you may have. You are also assured of getting any needed referrals to the top eye surgeons and other physicians since we have had the opportunity to see their patient outcomes over time. All of the 19 optometry schools in the United States train students in the treatment of eye diseases, minor surgical procedures, and the care involved in LASIK eye surgery to treat nearsightedness. There is an ongoing trend to unify state laws to allow optometrists to provide eye services as they have been taught in school without restrictions on the types of drugs used or by procedure. This will be a great benefit and aid the families of optometrists. Under the current laws it is very difficult to move to a different part of the country when a spouse is transferred or other reasons necessitate a move.
Other optometric services include vision therapy for crossed eyes, lazy eyes, and vision related learning problems. Visual aids and training for the partially sighted population is another specialty. Doctors of Optometry also provide rehabilitation vision care for people who have visually related problems from head injuries, and hospital based treatment of eye problems.
Educational Requirements for Doctors of Optometry
Optometry requires an undergraduate degree with an emphasis on biology and another 4-5 years attending an accredited optometry school, which usually entails a semester externship of training at a clinic or hospital. Students are required to take National Board Examinations and often State Board Exams before starting practice. Continuing education classes are required annually to assure optometrists stay up to date with changing technology. Students may complete a residency at a hospital or clinic in eye disease, family eye care, pediatric vision, low vision for the partially sighted. While not required, these allow for further specialization that may be needed to practice in a hospital or specialty clinic.
While optometrists take national and state boards, there is a process now beginning to add a new board certification level. This will be an ongoing process, requiring regular continuing education classes and competency tests.