Definitions of Eye Care Professionals
Ophthalmologist: a doctor of medicine specializing in ophthalmology, the branch of medical science dealing with anatomy, functions and diseases of the eye.
Optometrist: Doctors of Optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures, as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth, and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy, and medicines to treat eye diseases.
Optician: a person who makes or sells glasses for remedying defects of vision in accordance with the prescriptions of the ophthalmologist or optometrist.
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How to Find An Eye Care Professional
Ask friends and family members about which eye care professional they use.
Ask your personal physician for the names of local eye care specialists.
Telephone the department of ophthalmology or optometry at a nearby hospital, university medical center or medical school.
Contact your state or local association of ophthalmologists or optometrists. These groups (which may be called academies or societies) often have lists of eye care professionals by specialty and experience.
The American Academy of Ophthalmologists coordinates a Find An Eye MD on-line listing of member ophthalmologists who practice in the United States and abroad. It is designed to help the general public locate ophthalmologists within specific geographic regions. Their address is: American Academy of Ophthalmology, PO Box 7424, San Francisco, CA 94120-7424. Phone 415.561.8500. Fax: 415.561.8533.
Contact your insurance company or health plan. Ask if they have a list of eye care professionals that are covered by your plan.
Visit your local bookstore or library. Check on available books and journals about choosing a physician or medical treatment. Below are several examples:
Most large libraries have the reference set The ABMS Compendium of Certified Medical Professionals, which lists board-certified ophthalmologists, each with a brief biographical summary.
A Patient's Guide to Surgery, by Edward L. Bradley, M.D., Consumer Reports Books, October 1994, which contains a chapter about choosing a surgeon and a hospital.
The magazine U.S. News and World Report features an article each year (usually in August) that rates hospitals in the United States. Please see the listing on our Web site.
Possible Financial Assistance for Eye Care
Many state and national organizations provide financial assistance to people with vision problems. The American Macular Degeneration Foundation is providing the following as a service to our Web site visitors of possible avenues regarding financial assistance for eye care problems. Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the AMDF. The AMDF also does not vouch for the accuracy of the information provided below; though the AMDF believes it to be accurate. Other organizations not currently listed below are welcome to write to the AMDF on their letterhead to request their inclusion on the list.
EyeCare America's Senior Eye Care Program
Coordinated by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this program provides free medical eye care to all US citizens, age 65 and older, who have not seen an ophthalmologist in three or more years and who don't have coverage through an HMO or the Veterans Administration. The program also offers a diabetes and glaucoma eye care program.
Mission Cataract USA
Coordinated by the Volunteer Eye Surgeons' Association, this program provides free cataract surgery to people of all ages who don't have Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance and have no means to pay.
Coordinated by the American Optometric Association (AOA), Vision USA provides free eye care service to uninsured and low income workers and their families who have no means of obtaining care.
New Eyes for the Needy
This international program distributes new prescription eyeglasses to people with limited incomes.
Local Lions Clubs provides financial aid to individuals for eye care through their local chapters or clubs. Most localities have Lions Clubs, though services vary from club to club. Check your telephone book for the address and telephone number of the club nearest you. Contact the national office of the Lions Clubs by telephoning
OneSight, a Luxottica Foundation, is a family of charitable vision care programs dedicated to improving vision through outreach, research and education. Since 1988, these charitable efforts have provided free vision care and eyewear to more than seven million people in need around the world and have granted millions of dollars towards optical research and education.
The Medicine Program
Assists people to enroll in various patient assistance programs that provide prescription medicine for free to those in need. Note that patients must meet the criteria set by the specific program's sponsor. This Program is coordinated in cooperation with the patient's own physician.
The American Macular Degeneration Foundation suggests that you may also wish to contact a social worker at your local hospital or another community service agency. Social workers are frequently very knowledgeable about what community resources are available to assist people facing financial and/or medical problems.