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Visiting the Eye Care Professional
General Pracitioners – Your local doctor can refer you to an ophthalmologist to help diagnose or treat macular degeneration.

Optometrists - An optometrist performs eye exams for both vision and health problems, prescribes spectacles and fits contact lenses. Some optometrists have further specialisation in low vision rehabilitation. They can detect eye diseases and refer patients to ophthalmologists for treatment.

Ophthalmologists - An Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has completed extra training in eyes. Ophthalmologists perform eye exams, treat disease, prescribe medication and perform surgery. They may also write prescriptions for spectacles and contact lenses. Some ophthalmologists have further specialisation as a retinal specialist.

Orthoptists - An Orthoptist is a University trained allied health care practitioner and integral part of the ophthalmic team. Orthoptists specialise in diagnostic procedures and treatment related to:
  • disorders of the visual system and eye movements
  • uncorrected refractive error
  • low vision
  • stroke and brain injury
  • amblyopia (reduced vision)
  • strabismus (turned eye)
  • convergence insufficiency
  • eye muscle disorders
  • problems with visual perception



Handy Hints for Visiting the Eye Care Professional

It can be confusing and upsetting when dealing with a newly diagnosed eye disease and in some cases low vision. In these situations it can be difficult to remember what is being said by the doctor, ophthalmologist or optometrist at the time of consultation.

The following tips can help obtain the maximum benefit from the visit to the eye care professional:
  • If there is a feeling of not fully understanding what was said, it is fine to ring back after the visit and ask questions
  • At subsequent consultations:

    • take notes
    • get a friend or family member to also attend
    • ask the friend or family member to take notes and be available later for discussion
    • ask the eye care professional to write down instructions
    • request further information if still in doubt
    • find out if printed information is available
    • ring a relevant support service such as the Macular Disease Foundation Australia

The following questions can help obtain the maximum benefit from the visit to the low vision service:
  • Is it important for me to have a low vision assessment and what does this involve? What impact could there be on lifestyle due to low vision?
  • Are there any specific devices, aids, lighting and resources that will be of help in the home, work and social situations?
  • Is any training required for aids and technology and how can access be obtained for this service?
  • What other supports are available?
  • Are there any self-help or peer support groups?
 
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