How do you find an eye doctor?
How do you find an eye doctor?
Your Eye Care Doctor
“There is no limit to what we can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.”
This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson seems anathema to the world we live in: People are clamoring left and right to make sure that they get noticed, get heard, get credit…often, at the expense of a successful program or event or effort. When we’re so focused on “getting credit,” we lose track of what we need to be doing!
Taking the Team Approach since 1938
Isn’t it amazing then that, since 1938, Gardner Eye Care has provided resources for patients (gathering a team of professionals) so that each patient would trust and understand and take care of what would be best for his/her eyes and eye health?! This Team is the model that Gardner Eye Care has been using since Dr. James Gardner started Gardner Eye Care.
In the old days, most Optometrists took care of their patients at a desk in a jewelry store. Dr. James Gardner was among the first to open an independent office dedicated to caring for your eyes and vision. He shared the space with Dr. Sam Saletta, a general practitioner (remember those?) and Dr. Wally Miller, a dentist. Back then, people better appreciated that the eyes are part of the complex system of our body…and treated them accordingly.
When Dr. James started his practice, Optometrists examined vision and prescribed glasses (Contact lenses came to market much later.). Eye health issues were referred to a medical doctor. Patients could choose from one or two types of frames (Both were….ugly.) and Dr. James ground the prescription eyeglass lenses. Later on, he would send the prescriptions to a lab to have the lenses made.
Doctors of Optometry
Since Dr. James’ time, patient options of frames, lenses, contact lenses, and lens treatments have exploded. Dr. James was one of the first eye doctors to prescribe contact lenses in 1955. And the lenses were HARD (pieces of polymethyl methacrylate). They were, at the time, a controversial approach to correcting vision. Today, according to the American Optometric Association, over 30 million people wear contact lenses.
Optometrists today are trained and qualified to diagnose and treat certain eye health conditions. Myriad changes have occurred that make your choice more challenging and, sometimes, confusing.
Nonetheless, Team Spirit defines the Gardner approach to taking care of your eye health and vision. As Dr. Jack Gardner says, “The key is to match the patient, their needs, and the right professionals so that the patient gets the absolute best care possible.”
What exactly is vision and eye care today?
To make it easier to think about your choices, it’s important to understand the differences among the various types of eye care professionals and the importance of all health care professionals communicating with each other. Gardner Eye Care looks at each of the eye care professionals as part of the TEAM that takes care of your eye health and vision.
To understand the differences in the eye care professionals, it’s important to distinguish between your vision and your eye health.
When an Optometrist cares for your vision, s/he is working to determine how well you see. The doctor does a refraction (the part of the exam that asks, “which is better, number 1 or number 2”), tests your visual acuities (what you can see) and looks at whether or not you exhibit color blindness, as well as how you use your eyes together, among other things.
The full-scope Optometrist who cares for your vision and your eye health, evaluates your vision AND looks at the inside of your eye, the back of your eye, checks the pressure in your eye (checking for glaucoma), takes images of the back of the eye to document its health, checks for evidence of disease in the eye and in the rest of the body because health conditions often show up in the eyes before the patient develops any other symptoms. (Examples of this include diabetes, brain tumors, MS.) The full-scope Optometrist is trained and licensed to manage eye emergencies (scratched corneas, foreign bodies in the eye) and co-manage eye disease (glaucoma, for example), and surgery (cataracts, for example).
You can see, now, why it’s important to understand the critical differences between vision and eye health: vision is about how well you see near and far; eye health is about the health of your eye and your overall health as it shows up in your eyes.
Your Eye Care Team
Dr. Jack Gardner understands the importance of team work: He was part of the St. Rita High School National Championship Football Team AND the undefeated Catholic League Basketball Champs.
Taking care of your best interests is of first importance to him and this is how he describes your eye care team:
The Primary Care Optometrist (O.D.–Doctor of Optometry) is the doctor who has been trained to care for your eye health and vision. The Optometrist looks at your eye health, communicating with your regular doctor or specialist about your particular situation, making recommendations to you for your eye health care, including appropriate prescriptions. The Primary Care O.D. cares for your eye when you’ve gotten poked, gotten something in your eye, when your eye is red or crusty or painful.
The Primary Care O.D. investigates the potential sources of headaches, blurred vision, flashes of light. In addition, they offer a wide variety of products (frames, lenses, contact lenses, safety and sport goggles, for example). Some, like Dr. Gardner, have specialized in contact lenses as well as determining the most appropriate prescription for your eyewear—what you need for work could be different than what you’d need for your sport, for example. Most Primary Care Optometrists offer their care in a private practice and have a well-trained auxiliary Staff to assist in your care.
The Optometrist who works in a commercial store has likely been trained as a primary care optometrist, but may be limited by store policies to checking your vision and basic eye health concerns (the puff test for glaucoma, for example).
The Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who completed medical training and then concentrated on eye surgery as their specialty. The Ophthalmologist who supports the team aspect of your eye health and vision care communicates back and forth with the Primary Care Optometrist to assure that you receive the best care.
The Optician is the professional who has been certified or trained to make the lenses for your glasses. Today, optician often refers to those who help you choose appropriate eyewear—the right style and shape for your prescription, face shape, activity, and lifestyle. Gardner Eye Care Vision Source technicians are also trained to teach you how to insert and remove contact lenses from your eyes.
For a free checklist to help you choose the best eye doctor for you and your family, click here.
Beyond Eye and Vision Care
A true strength of the Team approach is that the primary care optometrist communicates with the other medical professionals whom you choose as your doctors. For example, Gardner Eye Care sends reports of findings to physicians of patients so that a record can be kept in each patient file. This is particularly important when a patient has a systemic disease like diabetes.
Further, professional relationships among Optometrists and Neurologists, Endocrinologists, Oncologists, for example, expedite care in emergency situations.
“The eyes are the mirror to the soul…and everything in between.”
Dr. Jack isn’t kidding when he says this. Many health conditions manifest in the eyes before other symptoms appear. This is why annual eye health exams are recommended and why it’s so important that you choose Doctors who believe in communicating with the doctors you choose to support you as you care for you and your family.
The Eye Care Team extends beyond the eye care professionals and includes your entire health care team! As Dr. Jack says, “As we age, we need 3 things: our mind, our legs, and our eyes.” Let’s work together to keep them all healthy!
Here’s to your WHOLE HEALTH!
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