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What is a Doctor of Optometry (Optometrist)?

Doctors of optometry examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. Optometrists examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy, and medicines to treat eye diseases.

An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. There are currently 23 optometry schools in the United States.

What is 20/20 Vision?

Some people often believe that if you have 20/20 vision your eyesight is perfect. This is not always the case.

The 20/20 test fails to indicate your overall vision status. Thus, you could have what is thought to be "perfect" vision but still have other visual deficiencies or anomalies such as problems with focusing, eye coordination and movement, visual perceptual skills, and color vision among others.


Your Child's Eyes: Get Them Checked Early and Often

Children should have their first eye examination at 6-months of age. During this initial exam the doctor makes sure the eyes are working well together and that they are free of uncommon but significant defects-such as cataracts and other conditions that could threaten the child's vision.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, before the child enters preschool, the next exam should take place. At this time the doctor looks for signs of developmental disorders, including "lazy eye," crossed eyes (strabismus), astigmatism, farsightedness and nearsightedness-which triggers difficulties in focusing.

Before the child enters kindergarten is the time for the next examination. At this point the doctor tests for sharpness of vision and may correct deficiencies in vision by prescribing spectacles.

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