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Ophthalmologist vs. Optometrist: What is the difference?

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Tue, Mar 12, 2019 @ 12:43 PM

ophthalmologistWhen it comes to ophthalmology and optometry, the differences between the two professions can be unclear. We understand that it is hard enough learning how to spell ophthalmology, much less understanding exactly what an ophthalmologist does.  So, deciding on who you should consult for your eye care can be a bit overwhelming.  With that in mind, let’s explore the key differences between an ophthalmologist and optometrist and determine which may best for your own eye care needs.

Defining Optometrist

The American Board of Clinical Optometry defines optometrists as: “Optometrists, or Doctors of Optometry, are primary health care providers who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and the eye's associated structures, as well as the diagnoses and management of related systemic conditions that affect the eye." 

Defining Ophthalmologist

The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines the profession of Ophthalmology or Ophthalmologist as: "An Eye M.D. is an ophthalmologist, a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Eye M.D.s are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Many Eye M.D.s are also involved in scientific research into the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems."

Between the two professions, there is some overlap in the types of care of provided. However, some very critical differences between the two should be noted and made clear. We have listed a couple of distinct differences below for your reference. 

Optometrist Treatments and Services

Optometrists are extensively trained in refraction and prescribing lenses.

An optometrist specializes in prescribing glasses and contact lenses.  An optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat vision conditions like farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism, as well as fit and prescribe contact lenses and prescription eyeglass lenses. A large part of their job was is to perform “refraction” — or vision correction exams. To prescribe eye glasses, an optometrist must complete a refraction to precisely measure a patient’s far-farsightedness, nearsightedness, and/or astigmatism.  A refraction should also include measurement of accommodation (focusing) and binocular (eye teaming) function.   

Optometrist Training and Education

To become an optometrist, one must complete four years of education from a school of optometry after receiving an undergraduate degree. While in optometry school, four years of concentrated class and clinic work in refraction, optics, ophthalmic optics and contact lenses are the main objectives. Additionally, every optometry school curriculum includes many hours of course work in binocular function, which is the study of how the two eyes work together.

Ophthalmologist Treatments and Services   

The study of ophthalmology is heavily concentrated on performing surgery on eyes to treat eye disease.  While the treatment by optometrist involves prescribing medications up to the point of surgery, ophthalmologists are trained to treat eye conditions and disease through both diagnosis and surgical intervention.

Ophthalmologist Training and Education

Ophthalmologists are trained in surgeries and pathologies. 

Ophthalmologists have more of an extensive schooling than do the optometrist. Ophthalmologist take four or more years of premedical undergraduate education. Once the four years of undergraduate schooling is complete, four years of medical school is then required. Then, one year of internship is required to get a medical license. Once they become licensed physicians, they will then undergo a residency of three or more years, with medical and surgical training in eye care.

When to See an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist

Whether you see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist for any eye condition, if you need surgery, seeing an ophthalmologist is a necessity. Eye surgery is extremely serious, and you’ll want to find the ophthalmologist who specializes in the specific type of treatment you need.  Surgeries commonly performed by ophthalmologists include cataract removal, LASIK, corneal transplants, and more.

If you have symptoms that may warrant a visit to an ophthalmologist, contact Eye Specialists of Louisiana.  We have a team of board-certified ophthalmologists available to address your concerns and provide the highest levels of treatment. 

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Tags: Eye Doctors

What Your Eye Color May Say About Your Health

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Wed, Feb 27, 2019 @ 05:16 PM

AdobeStock_106404672Most of us try to keep our health in check by exercising, maintaining a well-balanced diet and sleeping an adequate amount per night, but despite all of our efforts, there are some conditions to which each of us are genetically predisposed.  Sometimes, we can pinpoint these by reviewing our family history, but that isn’t the only clue into our potential health risks.  Did you know that your eye color can reveal abnormalities your body is predisposed to as well? Research suggests that eye color is linked to risks of certain diseases, blood sugar levels and even how your body reacts to alcohol.


What Brown Eyes Say About Your Health

Those with darker eyes are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to develop cataracts - a cloudy appearance over the pupil - than those with lighter eyes, according to a study published in the American Journal of Ophthalmology. If you have black or brown eyes, make sure to take the necessary precautions to protect your eyes, like investing in high-quality sunglasses and avoiding excess sun exposure between noon and 3:00 PM.

Brown eyes could even be connected to how well you can hear.  Studies show that in loud places, brown-eyed people experience less hearing loss than blue-eyed people. While we aren’t certain why this is the case, it may be due to the greater amount of melanin that brown-eyed people have, both in their eyes and in their ears.

Furthermore, people with brown eyes tend to have a slightly shorter reaction time than those with lighter eyes suggests a study done at the University of Louisville, giving those with darker eyes a bit of an athletic advantage. Lighter eyes tend to be more sensitive to light, which is the most likely cause of longer reaction times. 

What Blue Eyes Say About Your Health

Research done at Georgia State University suggests that those with light eyes consume significantly more alcohol than those with darker eyes. This may mean that darker-eyed people are more sensitive to alcohol and therefore consume it less frequently. However, another study done at the University of Vermont concluded that those with European descendancy (i.e., those with lighter eyes - especially blue) had a much greater dependency on alcohol when compared to other nationalities. 

Lighter eyes have also been linked to a higher pain tolerance. A 2014 study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that women with lighter eyes experienced lower levels of pain during childbirth and were less prone to postpartum depression. Women with darker eyes also appeared to be more dependent on pain medication. This is most likely due to a genetic link that controls both eye color and pain tolerance.

What Heterochromia Says About Your Health

If you are one of the rarities with a blue or green patch in your brown eyes (heterochromia), this may be a symptom of Waardenburg Syndrome - a genetic condition that can cause hearing loss and changing in pigmentation of the hair, skin and eyes. It can also be linked to unique facial features like wide-set eyes. Those with this syndrome sometimes even have patches of differently colored hair.

Comprehensive eye exams assess your vision while allowing optometrists to gain a close-up look into the inside of your eyes. The blood vessels, veins and nerves of the eye can reveal deeper details about your overall health.  Remember, it’s all connected! The ophthalmologists at Eye Specialists of Louisiana can help you identify and appropriately address any issues with your vision or eye health.  Simply contact our office to request an appointment.

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Can LASIK Fix Astigmatism?

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Tue, Jan 29, 2019 @ 05:32 PM

LASIK for astigmatism

LASIK, laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, corrects nearsightedness by flattening the cornea with a laser and treats farsightedness by steepening the cornea.  Astigmatism is a different visual problem. Instead of a normal round cornea you have one that’s more oval like a football, and the curvature causes your blurry vision. LASIK treatment for astigmatism doesn’t flatten or steepen the cornea; it corrects the uneven curvature of your cornea.


LASIK vs. Contact Lenses for Astigmatism

LASIK for astigmatism is an excellent option when compared to other alternatives like eyeglasses or contact lenses. Eyeglasses and contacts compensate for the abnormal curvature of the astigmatism with a lens that is curved in the opposite way from the cornea, effectively cancelling out the distortion. Unlike LASIK, these are short-term corrections to the symptoms associated with astigmatism- blurry vision, eyestrain, and headaches. They can also be disorienting since, by definition, these lenses are non-uniform in shape.  Astigmatism contacts can also rotate out of alignment causing blur.  And all contact lenses carry the risk of infection, inflammation, or corneal damage.

PRK and LASEK for Astigmatism

With reshaping the surface of your eyes, temporary fixes like contact lenses or glasses become unnecessary in many cases. There are different types of refractive surgeries. PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, involves your surgeon removing the outer, protective layer of your cornea before changing its curvature. LASEK, or laser-assisted subepithelial keratomileusis, different from LASIK, involves the folding of an extremely thin layer of the cornea, unlike the slightly thicker flap seen in LASIK.

LASIK for Astigmatism

LASIK for astigmatism involves your surgeon making a thin, small circular hinged cut into your cornea. He or she folds back the hinged flap and then reshapes the cornea using an excimer laser that doesn’t produce any heat. Many people choose to have LASIK for astigmatism over other refractive surgeries because it is very safe and the recovery time is very short.

Since the U.S. Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) approved LASIK in 1998, its popularity and acceptance as a safe and minimally invasive surgery has grown. In fact, each year thousands of Americans, whether they have LASIK for astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness, have undergone this surgery with great results. The vast majority of LASIK patients achieve perfect or near perfect vision without the use of temporary fixes like eyeglasses or contact lens.  Some LASIK patients may still need to make use of glasses for reading or driving, but LASIK can still provide life altering vision correction.

Before you choose to have LASIK a proper evaluation of the benefits, risks, and anticipated results, along with a consultation and evaluation with a physician, should be completed by each potential LASIK candidate. Numerous factors play into the eligibility of LASIK candidates and every person considering LASIK should make sure that they are able to comply with the post-surgical orders.  For instance, after surgery you shouldn’t rub your eyes. This can wrinkle or displace the thin corneal flap. Also, there may be side effects that tend to fade over time as your cornea heals, such as haziness and difficulty with night vision.

LASIK in Baton Rouge

It’s important to talk to your surgeon or eye care professional about whether or not LASIK is the solution for you.  The doctors at Eye Specialists of Louisiana have years of experience in performing LASIK surgeries.  Our staff would be happy to help any potential LASIK patient weigh their options and evaluate their candidacy for LASIK.  Astigmatism no longer has to have the associated burden of eyeglasses or contact lenses for vision correction.  

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Tags: LASIK, Astigmatism

Top 3 Causes of Vision Loss

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Fri, Jan 18, 2019 @ 05:11 PM

causes of vision loss

Vision impairment is a very serious and life-altering condition which impacts a large portion of the American public.  In 2016, the National Health Interview Survey revealed that 25.5 million American adults experience vision loss to some degree.  These individuals either report being blind or having ongoing vision impairment, even when using corrective eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses.  These persistent eyesight problems mean ever growing limitations on their lifestyle and the tasks that they can perform.

While causes of vision loss worldwide are often attributed to living conditions and lack of health care, the leading factors for those in the US are generally age-related.  It’s no secret that our bodies begin to naturally deteriorate over time.  This general weakening of strength and resiliency eventually affects nearly every part of the human body, including the eyes.  There are four main structures which control the function of the eye: the cornea, retina, lens, and optic nerve.  Conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration which impact any one of these structures, will lead to deteriorating vision and generally occur in the older population.  Unfortunately, once the process of vision loss has begun, there is little that can be done to restore it.  However, with proper care and medical attention, much of the damage can be avoided.

Vision Loss from Cataracts

Cataracts are clouding of the lens of the eye that results in blurriness of vision which will worsen over time. Cataracts are a natural part of the aging process for most, with 50 percent of adults over the age of 80 having them.  They may occur in one or both eyes and can eventually lead to complete blindness if left untreated.  Fortunately, cataract removal surgery and lens replacement is a common and highly effective treatment option.  While many of these surgeries are still done by hand with incredible accuracy, laser options such as the LenSx are increasingly available for improved accuracy and patient comfort. 


Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration

The macula is a part of the retina which is responsible for central vision.  It allows you to see fine detail within your direct line of sight and is responsible for being able to see clearly when doing tasks such as reading or driving.  With age, this central portion of the retina can deteriorate and lead to weakened eyesight.  Preventative care with an ophthalmologist is crucial to prevent macular degeneration from reaching an advanced stage.  This condition cannot be ignored, or advancing vision loss will be unavoidable.  Finding an eye doctor to help you control the condition will be the most important step in preserving your eyesight.


Vision Loss from Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) results in damage to the eye’s optic nerve.  While it may cause no symptoms at first, if left untreated, glaucoma can result in vision loss and blindness.  In fact, it is the leading cause of blindness worldwide.  However, it is also quite preventable.  Regular eye exams can lead to a diagnosis of increased IOP and the potential risk of glaucoma before causing damage to the nerve.  This is critical, because once vision loss from the condition begins, it cannot be reversed.  Fortunately for those who are aware of the disease early on, it is typically controlled quite easily with eye drops to prevent any further vision loss.

Vision loss is a serious problem worldwide, and in many cases, it is largely avoidable.  Regular eye exams and preventative care can mean the difference between preserving eyesight and blindness.  For each of the conditions listed above, the care of a skilled ophthalmologist can help patients avoid worsening of the condition, and in some cases, vision may actually be improved.  For many people, routine or wellness appointments are deemed unnecessary or avoidable.  The truth is that these appointments often hold a greater impact to our health than simply going to the doctor after a medical problem is noticed.

If you are in the Baton Rouge area, schedule an exam with Eye Specialists of LouisianaOur physicians will assess your vision and the overall health of your eyes.  They can answer any questions, address any concerns, and diagnose and treat any conditions that may be present. 

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Tags: Vision Disorders

3 Ways to Improve Eyesight Naturally

Posted by Eye Specialists of Louisiana on Fri, Dec 21, 2018 @ 02:12 PM

improve eyesight naturally

An estimated 75% of the American adult population uses some form of corrective eyewear.  Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are just some of the vision hindering conditions that lead many to seek out contact lenses, glasses, or even corrective surgery procedures such as LASIK.   These options are viable for many and can often give patients the vision improvement they have been looking for.  However, equally as important as choosing the appropriate form of vision correction is proper on-going care of your eyes.


The eyes are among the body’s most highly functional organs and are nearly constantly in use.  Even during sleep, our eyes go through cycles of rapid eye movement, or REM.  They seldom are at rest.  However, for most, little thought is given to these hardworking body parts or their long-term care until vision problems occur.  Increasingly, our daily habits such as heightened screen time and poor diet are beginning to play a detrimental role in eye health.  Without appropriate care, it is safe to assume that vision will continue to deteriorate over time, at a much more rapid pace. 

Fortunately, in addition to regular eye exams and the various available forms of vision correction, there are a few things that you can do to help keep your eyes strong and healthy naturally:

Eating for Eye Health

As is the case with all organs, nutrition matters.  Proper diet can promote good eye sight by helping to keep eyes strong and healthy.  We’ve previously blogged about some super foods for eye health, but among the most beneficial are those that contain beta carotene, lutein, zinc, DHA, and vitamins A, C, or E.

Exercises for Eye Strength

Eye strain, especially in the digital age, is a common complaint for many patients.  Frequent breaks and exercises are helpful to combat the negative effects.  Try to follow the 20-20-20 rule by taking a break every 20 minutes to focus on an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.  Slowly rolling your eyes may help as well.  Begin with 10 times clockwise, and then switch to 10 times counterclockwise.

Sleep and Healthy Eyes

One of the most effective measures you can take for eye health is to allow adequate time to rest.  Eight hours of sleep each night is ideal for eye health and rejuvenation.  Additionally, when working at a computer or reading for lengthy amounts of time, allow for a full 10 minutes of rest at least once per hour.

Eyesight gradually weakens for us all.  Some may need help with their vision from a very young age, while others may only require reading glasses later in life.  Regardless of the severity of deficiencies in your vision, proper care of your eyes is crucial.  By taking steps to ensure eye health, you can help ward off potentially damaging conditions, while also strengthening eyesight.

To fully protect your eyes, take the steps outlined above and schedule an appointment with your ophthalmologist for an exam.  The physicians at Eye Specialists of Louisiana can help you identify and appropriately address any issues with your vision or eye health.  To contact our office, click here, or call us directly at (225) 768-7777.


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