Hastings Leader - - News -


Do you feel like your vi­sion isn’t what it used to be? Do you find driv­ing at night a chal­lenge, or per­haps you have been out fish­ing with the kids and you can hardly see the tiny fish­ing line to thread on to the hook?

So you go to your doc­tor who tells you to see an op­tometrist but you’re not sure if you should see an op­tometrist, an op­ti­cian, or an oph­thal­mol­o­gist? What is the dif­fer­ence?


An op­tometrist is a reg­is­tered pri­mary health care prac­ti­tioner reg­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment. Only a reg­is­tered op­tometrist may use the ti­tle and pre­scribe glasses or con­tact lenses. Some op­tometrists can also pre­scribe a range of medicines for treat­ing eye con­di­tions such as in­fec­tions and al­ler­gies. This is a ther­a­peu­ti­cally qual­i­fied op­tometrist. Over­seas, op­tometrists are some­times called op­ti­cians or eye doc­tors.

An op­tometrist will need to ex­am­ine your eyes be­fore de­cid­ing what is wrong and how to treat you. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that with­out a proper di­ag­no­sis, a num­ber of sight-threat­en­ing con­di­tions might de­velop unchecked. With­out treat­ment these dis­or­ders can pro­gres­sively de­stroy your sight and blind­ness can re­sult. Ac­cord­ing to WHO 75 per cent of blind­ness in the world is pre­ventable. If you need spec­ta­cles or con­tact lenses then you can ex­pect that your op­tometrist will pre­scribe the most ap­pro­pri­ate cor­rec­tion. Pre­scrib­ing de­ci­sions af­ter ex­am­i­na­tion will be made us­ing di­rect mea­sure­ments made by your op­tometrist dur­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion, along with con­sid­er­a­tion of your re­sponses to the var­i­ous tests that you will ex­pe­ri­ence. This is be­cause vi­sion is a very com­plex hu­man sense that in­volves both the eyes and the brain work­ing to­gether to in­ter­pret what we see.

This will take time as there is a lot to cover.

More than a mil­lion eye ex­ams are per­formed by our op­tometrists in NZ each year. Only around 60 per cent of peo­ple ex­am­ined need to be pre­scribed glasses or con­tact lenses. The re­main­ing 40 per cent re­quire eye health care, ac­tive mon­i­tor­ing, med­i­cal treat­ment or just re­as­sur­ance that all is well.

For some eye dis­eases, treat­ment with a medicine is nec­es­sary and some­times a per­son with sus­pected eye dis­ease will be re­ferred to an oph­thal­mol­o­gist.


Oph­thal­mol­o­gists are specif­i­cally trained to di­ag­nose and treat se­ri­ous or ab­nor­mal eye con­di­tions, usu­ally by surgery or ther­a­peu­tic means. You of­ten need a re­fer­ral from an op­tometrist or GP to see an oph­thal­mol­o­gist.

Dis­pens­ing op­ti­cian

Dis­pens­ing op­ti­cians are qual­i­fied and reg­is­tered in New Zealand to in­ter­pret and dis­pense an op­ti­cal pre­scrip­tion writ­ten by an op­tometrist or oph­thal­mol­o­gist. This may in­clude tak­ing fa­cial mea­sure­ments and giv­ing ad­vice on spec­ta­cle lenses, frames and other op­ti­cal aids. A dis­pens­ing op­ti­cian does not ex­am­ine eyes or write pre­scrip­tions.

It is all a lit­tle con­fus­ing but if you are un­sure, ask your op­tometrist.

Vi­sion is a very com­plex hu­man sense that in­volves both the eyes and the brain work­ing to­gether to in­ter­pret what we see.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.