When it comes to glaucoma, an ophthalmologist is the expert. After completing a medical degree, they undergo at least three years of postgraduate training at medical centers specializing in the care, research, and teaching of ophthalmology. This includes a one-year fellowship in glaucoma, where they focus on clinical care and glaucoma surgery. During this intensive year, they often perform many different types of glaucoma surgery under the direct supervision of glaucoma specialists. Optometrists are also involved in the treatment and management of patients with eye diseases such as glaucoma.
The role each optometrist plays when working with an eye doctor varies. Some optometrists perform refractions and help with postoperative care, while others are licensed in most states to prescribe medications for glaucoma. However, treating glaucoma is largely a matter of judgment and experience. When it comes to diagnosing glaucoma, most referrals from optometrists to ophthalmologists occur. An ophthalmologist is more likely to perform a peripheral iridotomy than another, and they are experts in performing laser treatments and surgeries for glaucoma.
They know when these treatments are indicated or should be considered as alternatives to drops and pills. If you suspect you may have glaucoma, you can start by seeing your primary health care provider or be referred right away to an eye specialist. This may include the eye doctor or optometrist who could refer you or ask your primary care doctor. Identifying the “best eye doctor” for glaucoma surgery may depend on the relationship and trust you place in a surgeon. A second opinion can help you see if the surgery recommended by an eye doctor is a reasonable option, even if the second eye doctor recommends a different one. La Dra.
Yvonne Ou is a board-certified eye doctor who specializes in glaucoma, including medical, laser and surgical therapies; the evaluation and treatment of cataracts, including combined cataract and glaucoma surgery; screening and implantation surgery for glaucoma; and newer procedures. In this arrangement, the patient can alternate between visiting the optometrist and the eye doctor.