What is Ophthalmology? – Overview
Ophthalmology is the applied practice of the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of conditions affecting the anatomy or physiology of the human eye.
The word ophthalmology comes from Greek roots. Ophthalmol translates to ‘eye,’ and logos is one of the many Greek words which translates to discourse, thought, or word. So the term ophthalmology quite literally means ‘the science of the eye.’
On the other hand, an ophthalmologist is an individual who has years of specialized training in surgical and medical ophthalmology, concentrating on the diagnosis, practices, and methods of ophthalmology eye exams and treatments, both surgical and medical.
Since an ophthalmologist can perform eye surgery, including cataract surgery and laser eye surgery, commonly known as Lasik, they are considered medical and surgical specialists.
Branches of Ophthalmology
While ophthalmology is a precisely-defined medical discipline, there are sub-specializations that individuals studying this line of medicine can specialize in. Some of the most common sub-specializations of ophthalmology include:
Neuro-ophthalmology: This sub-specialization deals with visual impairments caused by nervous system issues, particularly in the brain
Ocular oncology: This sub-specialization deals mainly with cancer of the eye or cancer of parts of the eye and eye tumors
Ophthalmic pathology: This sub-specialization deals with the diagnosis of neoplastic eye conditions, also known as surgical ophthalmology or pathology
Pediatric ophthalmology: This sub-specialization deals with eye conditions affecting infants or young kids, such as misaligned eyes, otherwise known as strabismus
Ophthalmology is the discipline studied by physicians who want further training in eye care and treatment after clearing medical school.
As certified medical doctors, ophthalmologists are licensed to practice medicine but, more importantly, diagnose, treat, and prevent eye conditions.
An ophthalmologist receives at least three years of training in diagnosing, treating, and preventing eye disorders.
Some ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific studies and evaluations in an attempt to find cures for eye conditions.
Which Conditions Does Ophthalmology Cover?
The discipline of ophthalmology covers a wide range of eye care services, ranging from a prescription of contact lenses or spectacles to performing eye operations if need be
Apart from patient care, the discipline of ophthalmology also covers scientific studies to determine the cause of eye diseases and visual problems.
Some of the common conditions this discipline covers include:
1. Amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye
2. Astigmatism: This is an eye condition that leads to blurred vision
3. Cancer of the eye or any eye parts, including intraocular melanoma and retinoblastoma
4. Cataracts: This condition features a cloudy lens and can cause impairment
5. Conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye
6. Corneal dystrophy: This is an uncommon genetic and progressive eye condition that affects the cornea in both eyes
7. Diabetic retinopathy: This is a condition where the optical vessels of the retina are damaged due to a complication of diabetes
8. Dry eyes: This is a condition whereby the eyes cannot produce enough tears
9. Glaucoma: This is a condition whereby there is damage to the optical nerve
10. Hyperopia otherwise known as farsightedness
11. Macular degeneration
12. Myopia otherwise known as near-sightedness
13. Presbyopia: A condition where the eyes can’t focus due to aging
14. Retinal detachment: This condition can cause loss of vision
15. Uveitis: This is a group of eye conditions that harms the eye tissue, including the lens, optical nerve, and retina
16. If you’re an adult aged 40 and above, you’re recommended to see an ophthalmology specialist for routine eye check-ups even if no symptoms are established.
What Can You Expect from an Ophthalmology Exam?
Visiting an ophthalmology specialist means having your eyes seriously checked for eye problems. You’ll be asked about your medical history and symptoms during your appointment. The ophthalmology specialist will then check your eyes for the following:
1. Eye muscle coordination
2. Intraocular pressure
3. Peripheral vision
4. Pupil response to light
5. Refraction to see whether you need contacts or spectacles
6. The well-being and function of eyelids
7. Visual acuity
Depending on the results of these tests, an ophthalmology specialist will decide the most appropriate course of action to improve your eyes and prevent symptoms from worsening.
Among the likely treatments for eye diseases include medication such as eye drops or pills and contact lenses or spectacles (eyeglasses) to correct vision.
Advanced conditions require the ophthalmology specialist to perform surgical procedures such as Lasik, and sometimes, you can be referred to a sub-specialist for better care.
To sum it all up, ophthalmology is the discipline that caters to the diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions.
Issues of the eyes accumulate over time, and thanks to this discipline, they can be prevented by regular check-ups; you just need to visit an ophthalmologist.