Roles and Responsibilities of an Optometrist

Optometrists are healthcare practitioners who specialize in eye health and vision. They can diagnose and treat glaucoma, diabetes, retinal disease, and macular degeneration.

An optometrist can also provide services such as low-vision rehabilitation and vision therapy. They also research and develop products that promote visual health.

Contact Lenses

Unlike eyeglasses, contact lenses are worn directly on the front of your eyes, and they can correct refractive errors like myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism (when the cornea is curved irregularly), and presbyopia (an age-related reading issue). These thin plastic lenses bend light as it enters your eye, directing it to a single focal point on the retina. Depending on your prescription, they can be thicker on the outer edges for nearsightedness or thinner in the middle for farsightedness.

Eye Exams

Your eye doctor uses a variety of tests to evaluate your eyes and vision. These exams are designed to detect problems as they develop when treatment is often most effective. During a typical comprehensive exam, optometrists in Halifax will examine your vision (visual acuity) with a Snellen chart. This test involves reading random letters or numbers that become smaller line by line as you move down the chart. Your eye doctor will also look at the surface of your eyes for signs of dryness, scratches or bacterial debris. They may use a special light to check pupils’ responsiveness and natural reflexes that help keep your vision clear.


Eyeglasses are corrective eyewear that improves vision by changing how an image is formed on the retina. The lenses are made to conform to the prescription written by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. For example, a patient with nearsightedness or farsightedness needs a lens that bends light to focus on the right spot on the retina. Glasses or contact lenses may provide this correction. Some eyeglasses have bifocal lenses, which split the lens into two sections. These are commonly prescribed for people over 40 who can no longer focus on close objects with their near vision.

Vision Screenings

Vision screenings are quick, inexpensive tests that can detect reduced vision or eye conditions that may lead to loss of sight. They can be done by a doctor or certified health care professional without specialized equipment. The goal of screening is to identify eye problems and encourage people needing a complete eye exam by an eye doctor. These doctors are ophthalmologists or optometrists with specialized training to diagnose and treat all eye diseases and vision problems. Screening may include a visual acuity test, which evaluates how you can see letters on an eye chart at different distances. It also measures your eye’s refractive status (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) to know if you need glasses or contact lenses.

Eye Diseases

Eye diseases can affect your sight in a variety of ways. Some are minor and go away independently, while others need specialized care. An annual medical eye exam is a great way to identify problems before they worsen. And since most eye diseases develop without symptoms, the earlier you get an exam, the better off you are. During your appointment, your optometrist will ask about your health history and any vision concerns. They’ll also look at your eyes and determine your prescription for glasses or contact lenses, if necessary.

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