An optometrist, also called a Doctor of Optometry or O.D. for short, provides primary vision care. He or she diagnoses and treats eye diseases and disorders. If a patient needs vision correction, an optometrist will prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Some optometrists specialize in a particular clientele, for example, pediatric or geriatric patients, or a type of treatment such as low vision or post-operative care.
There are many diseases, disorders, and age-related changes that may affect the eyes and surrounding structures.
As the eye ages, certain changes occur that can be attributed solely to the aging process. Most of these anatomic and physiologic processes follow a gradual decline. With aging, the quality of vision worsens due to reasons independent of diseases of the aging eye. While there are many changes of significance in the non-diseased eye, the most functionally important changes seem to be a reduction in pupil size and the loss of accommodation or focusing capability (presbyopia). The area of the pupil governs the amount of light that can reach the retina. The extent to which the pupil dilates decreases with age, leading to a substantial decrease in light received at the retina. In comparison to younger people, it is as though older persons are constantly wearing medium-density sunglasses. Therefore, for any detailed visually guided tasks on which performance varies with illumination, older persons require extra lighting. Certain ocular diseases can come from sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and genital warts. If contact between the eye and area of infection occurs, the STD can be transmitted to the eye.
With aging, a prominent white ring develops in the periphery of the cornea called arcus senilis. Aging causes laxity, downward shift of eyelid tissues and atrophy of the orbital fat. These changes contribute to the etiology of several eyelid disorders such as ectropion, entropion, dermatochalasis, and ptosis. The vitreous gel undergoes liquefaction (posterior vitreous detachment or PVD) and its opacities — visible as floaters — gradually increase in number.
Various eye care professionals, including ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians, are involved in the treatment and management of ocular and vision disorders. A Snellen chart is one type of eye chart used to measure visual acuity. At the conclusion of a complete eye examination, the eye doctor might provide the patient with an eyeglass prescription for corrective lenses. Some disorders of the eyes for which corrective lenses are prescribed include myopia (near-sightedness) which affects about one-third of the human population, hyperopia (far-sightedness) which affects about one quarter of the population, astigmatism, and presbyopia (the loss of focusing range during aging(
Main article: Macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is especially prevalent in the U.S. and affects roughly 1.75 million Americans each year. Having lower levels of lutein and zeaxanthin within the macula may be associated with an increase in the risk of age-related macular degeneration, Lutein and zeaxanthin act as antioxidants that protect the retina and macula from oxidative damage from high-energy light waves. As the light waves enter the eye they excite electrons that can cause harm to the cells in the eye, but before they can cause oxidative damage that may lead to macular degeneration or cataracts. Lutein and zeaxanthin bind to the electron free radical and are reduced rendering the electron safe. There are many ways to ensure a diet rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, the best of which is to eat dark green vegetables including kale, spinach, broccoli and turnip greens. Nutrition is an important aspect of the ability to achieve and maintain proper eye health. Lutein and zeaxanthin are two major carotenoids, found in the macula of the eye, that are being researched to identify their role in the pathogenesis of eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.