Ophthalmologists carry great responsibility. Their knowledge, experience, and expertise can mean the difference between vision and blindness, a healthy eye or one that suffers from disease, or a critical diagnosis that maintains legal vision for years or decades longer than you would have experienced without it.
While the expression goes that the eyes are the window to the soul, eye doctors know that the eyes are also windows to your physical body. Many patients are surprised when their ophthalmologist uncovers a latent health condition that their general practitioners have missed. Thus, choosing an ophthalmologist should not be taken lightly.
7 Tips For Choosing An Ophthalmologist
So, taking the time to find a qualified and caring ophthalmologist who prioritizes your wellbeing can be good for more than just your vision.
Make sure you need an ophthalmologist (not an optometrist)
Sometimes, patients call to make an ophthalmologist appointment when what they really need is a checkup with an optometrist. The root of both of these words is “op/sis-,” referring to the eyes, but the roles each of these doctors play are quite different.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) and surgeons, going beyond the realm of the optometrist, to diagnose and treat serious eye issues and performing surgeries if necessary. So, if you are looking to obtain a vision exam or to update your eye prescription, you won’t need the services of an ophthalmologist. Fortunately, the Atlantic Eye Institute is home to the best of our areas ophthalmologists and optometrists, so we’ll make sure you book your appointment with the right eye expert!
Read our post, Ophthalmologist vs. Optometrist: What is the Difference? to learn more about the differences.
Ask your optometrist or physician for referrals
If you are being referred to an ophthalmologist by your current general physician (GP) or optometrist, ask for specific referrals. S/he may have a longstanding and positive professional relationship with the best ophthalmologists in the area, and can refer you to the one s/he feels will be the best fit for you and your diagnosis.
You should also ask around to see if your neighbors or friends have an ophthalmologist they recommend. We always value getting word-of-mouth referrals from our patients because it’s a sign that our conscientious bedside manners are up to par with our exceptional level of eye care and treatment.
Research their credentials
It is a serious crime to falsely advertise a certain level of education, certification, or other medical credentials unless they are complete and current. Unfortunately, some individuals falsely advertise in order to get your business.
Always research prospective doctors’ or specialists’ board certification when choosing an ophthalmologist, which you can do online by visiting the American Board of Ophthalmology website, the ABMS website, or by calling those entities directly. The American Board of Ophthalmology phone number is 610-664-1175; the American Board of Medical Specialties phone number is 1-866-ASK-ABMS (275-2267).
If they speak about studies they’ve participated in or published, use your search engine to verify that information as well.
Look for someone who specializes in your diagnosis/condition
We admit it; doctors play favorites – favorite conditions, that is. Just as ophthalmology is a specialty in the medical field, most ophthalmologists have an area or treatment in which they excel because they have a special draw towards certain diagnoses. It’s a specialty within a specialty, so to speak.
For example, during your consultations with prospective ophthalmologists, you may find that some specialize in treating glaucoma while others specialize in treating cataracts or performing LASIK surgery. Finding an ophthalmologist who specializes in your particular diagnosis or eye condition means you are working with a doctor who prioritizes keeping abreast of the latest and greatest research, discoveries, and innovative treatments.
Look for an ophthalmologist with experience
We acknowledge that everyone has to start somewhere. However, it also makes sense that patients deserve to work with experienced doctors.
The very process required to become an ophthalmologist ensures these eye specialists have already gleaned a great deal of experience before striking out on their own. Even so, continued practice and experience hone a physician’s senses. Similarly, if you require an optical surgery such as LASIK surgery, you want to make sure your surgeon has plenty of positive patient outcomes and testimonials behind him/her.
Do they offer telehealth capabilities
While the COVID pandemic has presented more than its fair share of challenges, losses, and grief, it has also reinforced how important it is to have HIPAA-compliant, safe, and connected Telehealth options in place.
We have been thrilled to learn what high quality of care we can provide via Telehealth options, especially for patients who are less mobile, have a sick child or loved one at home, or for those who are at higher risk for contracting communicable diseases. Speak to prospective ophthalmologists and their staff about their Telehealth offerings to ensure you are cared for throughout the fluctuating guidelines for this and other potential pandemics or risky flu seasons.
Prioritize your comfort when choosing an ophthalmologist
Your comfort is essential to receiving quality care. Patients who feel nervous, who doubt or even dislike their doctors, or who feel uncomfortable around a certain physician are less likely to provide the necessary details and information required to provide the care they deserve. It’s essential that you feel safe, secure, and completely confident with your eye care team.
Prioritize and trust your personal comfort levels. If you feel uncomfortable in the office environment, are not warmly received by the staff and the nurses, or if a prospective doctor makes you nervous in any way, honor that feeling. You should consult with as many ophthalmologists as you need to as you find the one with the credentials, experience, expertise, and bedside manner you trust the most.
We’re Here For Your Eyes
The team here at Atlantic Eye Institute invites you to schedule a consultation online with one of our exceptional ophthalmologists, or you can call our office directly, (904) 241-7865, to speak with someone in person.