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What is an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the designated leaders of the eye care team. They are medical eye doctors who specialize in eye and vision care, diagnosis and the treatment of eye disease and provide comprehensive eye exams, prescribe corrective lenses, prescribe and administer medication and perform eye surgery.  How many years of training does it take to become an eye surgeon?  It starts with a 4 year undergraduate degree, then 4 years of medical school, followed by a five year residency in eye surgery.  About half of eye surgeons complete a further 1-2 years of sub-specialty training, for a total of between 13 to 15 years.  Most eye surgeons are in their early 30s before they begin independent practice.

Other Members of the Team

Optometrists are non-medical practitioners trained to assess the eye and the visual system, sensory and ocular motor disorders and dysfunctions of the eye and the visual system, and diagnose refractive disorders. The optometrist prescribes and dispenses corrective and preventative devices and in some cases medications, and works hand in hand with other members of the eye care team in assuring that patients are referred appropriately for diagnostic and therapeutic needs.

Family physicians play a pivotal role in the delivery of health care in Canada, This role includes both the prevention and the treatment of eye disease. Their comprehensive medical knowledge allows them to relate ocular symptoms and signs to systemic disease, and their knowledge of microbiology enables them to recognize and treat common eye infections. Family physicians also play an important role in referring patients, when necessary, to the appropriate health care professionals. This might be to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease or to an optometrist for an oculo-visual assessment.

Many emergency physicians now staffing hospital emergency rooms are trained in emergency medicine. Others are family physicians who have developed a clinical expertise in emergency room care. These doctors have the clinical skills to deal with acute eye injuries and disease in an emergency situation. After initial assessment, patients are then referred to ophthalmologists for definitive treatment and follow-up.

Pediatricians are physicians with post graduate training which enables them to recognize and treat diseases in children and adolescents. As an active member of the eye care team, the pediatrician plays a vital role in recognizing ocular signs and symptoms of disease in their young patients.

Also an important member of the eye care team, internists are similar to pediatricians but look after an older age group. Internists also recognize the signs and symptoms of ocular disease and work closely with ophthalmologists in the management of patients who suffer from neurological disorders or diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and others.

Opticians are non-medical practitioners who supply, prepare and dispense optical appliances, interpret prescriptions prepared by ophthalmologists and optometrists, and fit, adjust and adapt optical appliances. Opticians are also known as ophthalmic dispensers or dispensing opticians.

An orthoptist is specially trained to recognize and treat by non-medical and non-surgical means, anomalies of binocular vision which are usually associated with the misalignment of the patient's eyes.

Orthoptists play a vital role in working with the ophthalmologist in a standardized assessment of ocular motility which is important in the diagnosis of strabismus and amblyopia (lazy eye) an in the long term follow-up during treatment with glasses or a post-operative surgical correction.

The Ophthalmic Medical Assistant (OMA) is a qualified individual who carries out diagnostic and therapeutic procedures under the direction and supervision of a qualified ophthalmologist. The ophthalmologist is responsible for the performance of the assistant. Absolute responsibility for the patient lies with the ophthalmologist.  OMAs come from varied backgrounds and have different levels of proficiency. The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology recognizes the Ophthalmic Assistant, the Ophthalmic Technician and the Ophthalmic Technologist levels of training. Each has a well-defined curriculum and a rigid assessment program.

Our Goal

Whether you are seeing us for cataract surgery, AMD treatment, diabetic eye changes, emergency eye care, pediatric eye care, glaucoma therapy another eye problem, our goal is to preserve and restore the vision of Ontario residents.