Eyecare Professionals - What's in a name? The term "Optician" is used by the public to describe anyone who is involved with the prescribing or making of spectacles. To give full or more accurate meaning to the word it is necessary to add a prefix. Three of these that are commonly used are manufacturing, dispensing and ophthalmic.
Manufacturing opticians actually make the lenses to the specified requirements. With the growing complexity of lens designs and materials available, the work of the manufacturing optician becomes increasingly more complex and skilled.
Dispensing opticians are responsible for informing people as to the suitability of different lenses and frames for their particular prescription. It is their responsibility to ensure that frames fit correctly and that lenses are centred correctly in the chosen frame. Some dispensing opticians take further qualifications to enable tham to fit contact lenses.
Ophthalmic opticians (better known now as Optometrists) are trained, qualified and registered to examine patients with regard to the health of the eyes, the need for visual correction (spectacles or contact lenses) and to assess binocular function to ensure that the two eyes are working correctly together. If a problem is found during the course of the examination, the optometrist will refer usually to the general practitioner or in the case of an emergency directly to the nearest hospital eye unit. Optometrists are trained in all aspects of the dispensing functions but in many cases will work along side a dispensing optician who will carry out this aspect of the practice business.
Other eyecare professionals include orthoptists and ophthalmologists.
Orthoptists specialise in assessing binocular vision and the provision and monitoring of eye exercises in cases of "lazy eyes" or squints. This is usually in the hospital setting as part of the ophthalmic team which is headed by an ophthalmologist.
Ophthalmologists are highly trained and qualified medical consultants specialising in all aspects of eye care. With the complexity of the anatomy of the eye, ophthalmologists will often sub-specialise in anterior (eg. corneal work) or posterior (eg. retinal work) surgery.
The Eye Examination! An eye examination is not just a check to see if you need spectacles or contact lenses. A full eye examination checks the health of your eyes as well as your vision. We also check that the muscles controlling your eyes are working properly and can advise you on ways of reducing eyestrain at home and at work. For most people this will take between 25 and 40 minutes and should include the following:
History and Symptoms - we first discuss any problems you might have with your eyesight and general health as many eye conditions are health-related. We also discuss your work and leisure activities to assess your visual needs.
Eyewear Assessment - if you already wear glasses or contact lenses, we check them to see if they are still suitable for your vision and needs.
Ophthalmoscopy - this is a very important part because it evaluates the health of your eyes. Conditions such as diabetes, cataracts, hypertension and macular degeneration can be detected and monitored by an eye examination.
Pupil Reflexes - an unusual pupil reflex may indicate neurological problems, so we check that your pupils react normally to light.
Oculomotor Balance - we check that your eye muscles are co-ordinated and that you have comfortable vision at all distances.
Refraction - this part of your examination finds out whether you need optical lenses to correct your eyesight. We test your distance vision (for driving, TV etc), your near vision (for reading) and also your intermediate vision (for hobbies or computer use).
Intraocular Pressure - if the pressure in the eye is too high, it can increase the risk of developing glaucoma, a disease which if not controlled, can lead onto blindness. This test is usually only performed on adults as the risk of problems developing increases as we get older particularly over the age of 40.
Visual Field Test - conditions such as glaucoma can cause loss of your peripheral vision leading to the classic "tunnel vision" scenario where you only have a very narrow limited field of vision. We also check your visual fields because more serious conditions such as brain tumours can be detected if they are pressing on the nerves of the visual system.
OCT Scan & Fundus Photography - modern digital technology allows us to take 3-D scans and photographs of the back of the eye allowing more detail to be seen than ever before. Also this allows us to monitor any conditions that we may find and possibly take action, if needed, at an earlier stage hopefully preventing further damage and loss of vision.
Discussion - finally having carried out a comprehensive examination, we will discuss the results with you, give you a copy of the prescription and advise you of the options available as to how best to correct any vision problems that we have found.
Computerised Test Chart
OCT 3D Scanner