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5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist

When it comes to vision care, choosing the right eye doctor is just as important as choosing the right primary care physician. Because vision problems can so directly affect your quality of life, it’s important to choose an experienced eye doctor that you trust and who makes sure your needs are heard.

However, there is more than one kind of eye doctor and the decision of who you should see will depend on your vision needs. Your two main options are optometrists and ophthalmologists.

An optometrists’s educational background will include a bachelor’s degree followed by a four-year professional program from which they will earn a doctor of optometry degree. They can perform vision tests and eye exams, treat farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism, prescribe contact lenses and glasses, and detect eye diseases and injuries.

Ophthalmologists go to medical school after college, then they complete a one-year internship and a three-year residency, possibly followed by additional years of fellowship with another ophthalmologist. Once their schooling is complete, an ophthalmologist can offer vision tests and eye exams, diagnosis of eye diseases, plastic surgery for droopy eyelids, medical eye care for ailments like iritis and glaucoma, surgical eye care for conditions including trauma, cataracts, multi focal lenses and LASIK surgery. 

Finding a practice that has both optometrists and ophthalmologists will allow you the benefit of both experiences and the best that each has to offer. The comprehensive care of the Ophthalmologist which includes surgical training and the specialized care some optometrists may offer with regard to difficult contact lens fittings and glasses.

If your vision care requires more than basic eye exams, it may be a good idea to choose an ophthalmologist as your primary vision care provider. Keep in mind, though, not all ophthalmologists will be the same. Here are some important tips for selecting the right ophthalmologist for you.

Use recommendations from friends, family and neighbors

You shouldn’t have to go far to find an acquaintance who goes to an ophthalmologist near you (Hint: just look for someone who wears glasses). Word of mouth recommendations and online reviews can offer you the best insight into whether one doctor is rated more highly than another.

You may also try looking up lists of top-rated eye doctors in your area through search engines or online review services. Take a look at how the office is rated overall and what concerns past patients may have.

You can also search a list of board-certified ophthalmologists with the Find an Ophthalmologist tool offered by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Consider what procedures you’re in need of

While all ophthalmologists can perform basically the same procedures, some may specialize or have more experience in one area than another. If a cataract surgery and multi-focal lenses are first on the list, then find a practice by researching online or calling the office staff how many procedures a year the office handles in surgical procedures. Inquiring about procedures such as LASIK or cataract surgery at specialized centers may offer competitive pricing or enhanced surgical options.

Schedule a first visit

The great thing about choosing an eye doctor is you don’t have to sign a contract at the first visit saying you’ll never leave or visit another doctor again. Consider your first appointment a try-out for the office. How long did you have to wait? How welcome did you feel? How easy was making the appointment and did you receive a reminder call pre-visit? Consider how these factors influence your overall experience at your eye appointment.

Rate your doctor

Your initial visit will also give you a first impression of the ophthalmologist himself. Having a doctor who listens closely to your concerns and makes you feel comfortable can be one of the most important aspects of choosing your eye doctor. If you don’t feel comfortable or heard, you may be less likely to make regular visits in the future, which could negatively affect your eye health.

Look for transparency

Transparency during an initial consultation is important and each response to your questions regarding surgical and billing procedures should show you just how professional the practice is. A well-qualified ophthalmologist office should have set rates for each procedure and be able to easily answer your questions about billing, payment plans and insurance coverage.

Making the right decision for your eye health takes time and consideration. The Schwartz Laser Eye Center offers the professionalism and experience LASIK patients are looking for. Dr. Jay Schwartz, president of Schwartz Laser Eye Center, has performed more than 47,000 LASIK surgeries. He also offers variations on the procedure, including InstraLASIK and Custom LASIK and consistently ranked among the top ophthalmologist in Arizona. The team of doctors at the Schwartz Laser Eye Center include both optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide the most comprehensive care for whatever the situation.

For more information on LASIK, multifocal or laser cataract surgery or to schedule a consultation, contact or visit a Schwartz Laser Eye Center location near you.

About Dr. Schwartz

As a leading eye care professional in the Scottsdale and Glendale areas, Dr. Schwartz is arguably the most prolific refractive surgeon in the valley. Having performed over 47,000 LASIK surgeries and being the first ophthalmologist in Arizona certified to perform the Kamra Inlay procedure, it is not hard to see why professional athletes and Arizona residents have trusted the Schwartz Laser Eye Center since 2001.