There is a lot of confusion about what optometrists really do. We are so stereotypically associated with asking people "Which is better, 1 or 2?" and correcting vision problems that people are sometimes surprised to hear that we do a lot more! To help with the confusion I decided to start this new blog series "I should see an eye doctor for that?". Some might surprise you, some might not. In today's blog I want to go over one that should be obvious: eye infections.
Eye infections, often known as pink eye, are really common. Your eye might be red, gooey, watery, itchy, sore and your vision may be blurred. They aren't pleasant. So if you wake up with a nasty red eye who are you going to call? If you said Ghostbusters congratulations for being born in the 80's. Assuming your eye isn't haunted though you're going to need a doctor. So, do you go see your medical doctor or your doctor of optometry?
Medical doctors are of course fully trained to deal with eye infections and can prescribe you what you need. So, why would you see an optometrist instead?
1. Optometrists have specialized equipment. This equipment is designed to look closely at the eye to determine what type of infection you have, how serious it is and if it is actually an infection or something else. Most MDs do not. Having this information means we can target the infection directly leading to faster healing times and a lower chance of a misdiagnosis (which could make the problem worse depending on what is prescribed).
2. There's no wait! You can generally get in to see an optometrist within a few minutes. My MD is great but I almost always have to wait to get in even when I have an appointment. The wait times at an ER for something like this will be brutal because it's not an emergency and you'll be waiting for ages.
3. It's fully covered by Alberta Health Care. So long as you provide us with your Alberta Health Care number a visit for an eye infection is considered medically required.
So, it's faster, it's free and we have all the specialized equipment and training to make a good diagnosis and fix your infection. There's no reason not to come see an optometrist! After all, if you had a toothache would you go see your medical doctor or would you see your dentist?