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Nov 03 2023

What is an optometrist and when should you see one?

November 3, 2023  /   Eye Care  /   7-minute read

Your vision is precious, and taking care of it should be a priority. Visiting an optometrist can help you maintain healthy eyes and sharp vision. What exactly is an optometrist, and when should you see one? If you have questions about eye care, you’re in the right place.

What is an optometrist?

Optometrists are eye care professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating vision problems. They also prescribe medication, provide preoperative and postoperative care for eye surgeries, and offer advice for proper eye care. To become an optometrist, one must obtain a bachelor’s degree and attend a four-year optometry program. After receiving a Doctor of Optometry degree, optometrists must pass a national and a state optometry board exam to become licensed to practice.

When should you see an optometrist?

Vision is crucial for interacting with the world around us. An optometrist’s main goal is to meet the vision and eye health needs of the community, look after your eye health, and ensure you have the best quality of life possible.

Here are ten signs that you should see an optometrist:

1. Blurry vision

Blurry vision is a common indicator of a vision issue, but it could also signal a more serious eye condition. If your vision suddenly becomes blurry, it’s important to promptly seek an evaluation from an eye doctor. While an updated prescription might be the solution, a comprehensive eye exam can also assess your eyes for glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal disease and other severe eye conditions.

2. Frequent headaches

Headaches are a normal part of life, often triggered by emotional and physical stress. However, persistent headaches can be a sign of eyestrain, glaucoma or infection. They can also indicate issues with binocular vision, including amblyopia or convergence insufficiency.

3. Seeing double

Double vision can indicate injury, stroke, tumor or illness. If you experience double vision, whether chronic or sudden, it’s important to contact your eye doctor immediately. Double vision, or diplopia, can occur for various reasons. Depending on the cause, it can often be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or other treatments. In some cases, vision therapy may be recommended to improve coordination between the eyes.

4. Trouble with night vision

Difficulties seeing at night can be an initial sign of worsening vision. While some decrease in night vision is a natural consequence of aging, it can also indicate ocular health issues, such as developing cataracts or macular degeneration. An eye doctor can evaluate the underlying cause of your “night blindness” and recommend suitable treatment options.

Trouble driving at night? Read this blog post: Night blindness and driving at night.

5. Eye pain

Any kind of pain in or around the eyes is abnormal and should not be ignored. Conditions such as acute angle-closure glaucoma or ocular tumors can cause significant eye pain and potentially lead to blindness within a matter of days. Other common reasons for eye pain include irritation due to allergies, foreign objects in the eye, infections like pink eye, dry eye syndrome, corneal scratches or sunburn. Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.

6. Flashing lights or floaters

Floaters are those tiny squiggles, circles, or lines that sometimes appear to float in your field of vision. While occasional floaters and flashing lights are normal, an unusually large number could indicate a retinal tear or detachment. If you experience this, it is important to seek immediate medical attention from an eye doctor.

7. Dry eyes

If you’re experiencing dryness, grittiness, or itchiness in your eyes, it could be a sign of dry eyes. Dry eye symptoms are more common in dry climates or areas with polluted air. Women are more susceptible to dry eye than men, and certain medications and medical conditions can also cause dry eye symptoms. While temporary relief can be found using artificial tears, persistent symptoms should be evaluated by an eye doctor to diagnose the underlying cause and provide a comprehensive treatment plan.

Dive deeper by reading this blog post: Everything you need to know about dry eye.

8. Watery eyes

Excessive tearing can surprisingly be a symptom of dry eye syndrome. When your eyes lack sufficient lubrication, they may produce more tears to compensate, resulting in watery eyes. Inadequate oil in your tears could lead to increased evaporation. If the symptoms persist, it is recommended to consult an eye doctor for a proper evaluation.

9. Eye discomfort when using screens

Eye discomfort related to digital screen use is increasingly common. Many individuals spend extensive hours staring at computer screens at work and continue using phones, televisions, and laptops at home. Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain, decreased blink rate resulting in dry eye symptoms, and faster progression of myopia in children. If the symptoms persist, an eye doctor can evaluate the issue and suggest ways to alleviate discomfort.

10. Light sensitivity

Having some light sensitivity (photophobia) when transitioning from indoor lighting to outdoor sunlight is normal. However, if your eyes are overly sensitive to light, it could indicate more serious eye conditions such as corneal abrasion, cataracts or keratoconus. If you experience persistent light sensitivity, you should consult an eye doctor for a proper examination.

Bonus! There’s one more important reason to schedule an appointment with your optometrist.

11. Annual eye exam

Yearly comprehensive eye exams are crucial for maintaining optimal eye health. By detecting eye diseases and vision irregularities early on, optometrists can prevent them from progressing. These exams also allow for updating prescriptions and monitoring changes in vision.

Meet our new provider

Welia Health Eye Care Center welcomes a new provider to our team, Austin Peterson, OD.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr. Austin Peterson to the Welia Health and Eye Care Center team,” commented Troy Mork, OD, Welia Health optometrist. “It is awesome to have Austin return to his home community. I look forward to working alongside him. He will undoubtedly benefit our patients and provide them with the high-quality care they deserve.”

Austin Peterson, OD

Time to make an appointment?

Your vision is vital to your overall health and well-being. Visiting an optometrist should be a standard part of your healthcare routine. Schedule annual eye exams at the Welia Health Eye Care Center to ensure your eyesight remains sharp and that any underlying health issues are detected early. 

Remember, if you experience eye discomfort or changes in your vision, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with one of Welia Health’s optometrists by calling the Eye Care Center at 320.679.2020.

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