Typically, pediatricians screen children less than the age of 20 during their routine visits for eye disease. If there is a specific concern or a family history of eye disease as a child, your child may be referred for ophthalmic exam. It is important to discuss the need for protective eyewear for sports and other contact activities.
Current recommendations suggest that young adults have one eye examination between the ages of 20-29 and two eye examinations between the ages of 30-39. A screening baseline examination is recommended at the age of 40 and approximately every 5 years thereafter until the age of 65 when examinations are recommended every one to two years. These recommendations are for people without evidence of eye disease. Should you be diagnosed with an eye condition or a medical condition such as diabetes that predisposes to eye disease, your doctor may recommend more frequent follow-up. It is important to follow-up with your doctor as recommended.
Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.'s) are different from optometrists and opticians in their training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. Ophthalmologists complete 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship and 3 years of residency (hospital-based training) in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders. After four years of college and eight additional years of medical education and training, an ophthalmologist must pass a rigorous examination given by the American Board of Ophthalmology. While all ophthalmologists specialize in eye problems and can treat all conditions, some decide to concentrate in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. These doctors are called subspecialists, and they usually complete a fellowship that includes one or two more years of additional training in the chosen area. Some subspecialists focus on the treatment of a disease, such as glaucoma. Others subspecialize in a particular part of the eye such as the retina. Pediatric ophthalmologists subspecialize in treating eye disease in children.
An optometrist is a doctor of optometry, licensed to practice optometry. Optometrists determine the need for glasses and contact lenses, prescribe optical correction, and screen for abnormalities of the eye. They attend two to four years of college and four years of optometry school. In some states, optometrists can prescribe a limited amount of drugs to help diagnose and treat certain eye conditions. Optometrists generally do not perform surgery.
An optician is licensed to make optical aids and therefore fits, adjusts and dispenses glasses, contact lenses and other optical devices on written prescriptions of a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. Training for an optician varies from a preceptorship to two years of optician school.