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What Are the Different Types of Optometry Services?

By C. Mitchell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Optometrists generally provide a range of different services, though most fall within three broad categories: general eye exams and basic care, diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases or vision impairments, and fitting and recommending corrective eye wear. Basic eye exams usually take up the bulk of any optometrist’s time. Doctors use these exams as a means of assessing general eye health, as well as screening for eye and vision problems. Most optometrists are able to fit patients for glasses or contact lenses and are often involved in actually crafting these tools, as well.

Ocular health experts in most places encourage healthy adults to have their eyes examined on an annual or biannual basis, even if they seem to have no eye trouble. Children and adults with known vision problems are usually recommended to make at least annual visits. The basic exam usually serves as a baseline for what, if any, further optometry services are required.

Eye exams typically include a combination of eye inspection and vision testing. Patients must usually undergo a battery of short exercises designed to measure the eyes and observe and chart how they work together. Many of these involve the use of vision machines or digital diagnostics, but not always. Tests can be as simple as having patients read letter charts from a far-off wall or follow a light with their eyes without moving the head.

Patients with healthy eyes and strong vision may not need any other optometry services. If the doctor notices any abnormalities, or if patients are not able to read or see as well as they have in the past, more care is often required. For serious conditions like eye infections or diseases, the use of prescription drugs may be appropriate. Optometrists in most jurisdictions are able to write and sometimes even fill prescriptions for certain ocular medications.

The majority of patients who seek optometry services do not have serious conditions. Most need some corrective help to keep their vision sharp, however. After the provision of basic exams, fitting glasses and contact lenses are usually the most common optometry services.

Many optometric clinics have glasses shops attached. This allows for a smooth transition from eye exam to vision correction. Optometrists usually make recommendations about which glasses or contact lenses would best suit a particular patient, paying attention both to medical and lifestyle concerns. People with severe seasonal allergies or complex vision problems are not usually the best candidates for contact lenses, for instance. Not all glasses frames are appropriate for athletes or those with particularly active schedules, either. A certain amount of patient counseling is accordingly also considered one of the core optometry services.

Optometrists can usually handle all aspects of corrective eye care, from ordering the lenses to fitting them and adjusting them as necessary. Doctors are usually limited to what they can fix or manipulate externally, however. Patients who would be good candidates for corrective eye surgery must usually be referred to specialists.

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