The following health professionals can be involved in diagnosing and managing eye health:
General Practitioners – 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
Visiting an eye health professional
It can be confusing and upsetting when diagnosed with an eye disease and dealing with low vision. Your doctor, ophthalmologist or optometrist will provide you with information and advice during your consultation but sometimes it can be difficult to remember everything that has been said.
The following advice can help when visiting an eye care professional:
- If you feel you did not fully understand what was said, feel comfortable about ringing back after the visit to ask questions
- Take a friend or family member with you
- Take notes or ask your friend/family member to take notes and be available later for discussion
- Ask the eye care professional to write down instructions
- Request further information if you are still in doubt
- Find out if printed information is available, and
- Ring a relevant support service such as 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?