What is ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine focused on studying and treating diseases and disorders of the eye. A primary care doctor may refer a patient to an ophthalmologist, or a doctor who specializes in ophthalmology, if they show symptoms of eye infections, cataracts, optic nerve problems, or other conditions affecting the eye.

Some subspecialties in ophthalmology include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Ocular oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery
  • Refractive surgery
  • The retina
  • Uveitis

Why is ophthalmology important in healthcare?

As a medical specialty focusing on the eye, ophthalmology plays a vital role in diagnosing, preventing, and treating all visual issues or eye conditions, thereby promoting eye health.

Some eye conditions an ophthalmologist can treat include:

  • Cataracts
  • Corneal conditions
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinal conditions (e.g., diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration)
  • Eye conditions with neurological causes (e.g., abnormal eye movements, optic nerve problems, vision loss, double vision)

In addition to treating the above eye conditions, an ophthalmologist also prescribes and fits glasses and contact lenses, allowing patients with vision problems the ability to see. Overall, the work of an ophthalmologist is essential to preserving one of the five senses and improving a patient’s quality of life.