The optometric field of health care focuses on primary eyecare services. Specialists examine, diagnose, treat and manage eye and vision disorders. Doctors in this area tackle such vision problems as farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia, as well as eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. An optometrist can prescribe glasses, contact lenses and medications and perform minor surgical procedures. People often confuse an optometrist with an ophthalmologist, who can perform complex and delicate eye surgery and eye research.
You should see an optometrist for an eye examination once a year. Early detection can lead to better treatment of many eye and vision problems. You should immediately schedule an appointment with an optometrist if you experience eye pain, blurred vision, problems focusing, visual disturbances, sudden sensitivity to light, headaches or an eye infection.
In general, you should have no trouble scheduling an appointment to see an optometrist, whether you live in a rural or urban area. Most optometrists work full-time, including evenings, weekends and by emergency appointments. The majority of optometrists are self-employed and have a general practice. Some optometrists also specialize in areas such as children's vision, sports vision or vision therapy. These specialists work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, retail stores and doctor's offices.