What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical and surgical specialist who deals with eyes and eyelids, trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions, prescribe medication and can perform eye surgery.

What sort of conditions do you treat?

This depends on age. For example, Ophthalmologists deal with cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration in the elderly. Cataracts develop when the lens becomes cloudy and vision blurs, even with glasses. The patient will require surgery to replace the lens and restore vision. Glaucoma is condition during which pressure in the eye increases, resulting in a damaged optic nerve. It can cause permanent blindness if not detected early. Macular degeneration is a degenerative disease of the nerve of the eye, the retina, which also results in vision loss. For younger patients, Ophthalmologist often deal with pink eye and other infections, trauma to the eye from sport or other injuries, and even squints, which require surgery or can be treated with glasses.

How does your speciality differ from an optometrist?

Optometrists prescribe glasses and corrective lenses, and detect possible medical conditions of the eye in order to refer the patient to an ophthalmologist. They study for four years and are not medical doctors. An ophthalmologist, in comparison, takes a minimum of 14 years to qualify for private practice. They complete a degree in medicine first (seven years), then an internship and community service (three years) and thereafter, specialise (four years).

For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Life Fourways hospital on 011 875 1000 / 011 875 1866.

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