Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. Since they perform eye operations, they are considered to be both medical and surgical specialists.

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Public Health and Safety

How many ophthalmologists are there in US?

There are 19,210 graduated ophthalmologists in the US.

The Difference Between

What is ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, functions, pathology, and treatment of the eye.

Job Training and Career Qualifications

How long does it take to become a ophthalmologist?

To become an ophthalmologist, you must attend 4 years of medical school, 2 years in general ophthalmology, 2 more years if you specialize in retina/cornea/oculoplastics/neuroophthalmology, and then another 2-4 years in residency/surgical/fellowship training. So it would take approximately 8-10 years after getting a bachelor's degree. (12-14 years after high school)

The following answer is for Optometrists, NOT ophthalmologists.

All States and the District of Columbia require that optometrists be licensed. Applicants for a license must have a Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited optometry school and must pass both a written National Board examination and a National, regional, or State clinical board examination. The written and clinical examinations of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry usually are taken during the student's academic career. Many States also require applicants to pass an examination on relevant State laws. Licenses are renewed every 1 to 3 years and, in all States, continuing education credits are needed for renewal.

The Doctor of Optometry degree requires the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited optometry school, preceded by at least 3 years of preoptometric study at an accredited college or university. Most optometry students hold a bachelor's or higher degree. In 2004, 17 U.S. schools and colleges of optometry offered programs accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education of the American Optometric Association.

Requirements for admission to schools of optometry include courses in English, mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. A few schools also require or recommend courses in psychology, history, sociology, speech, or business. Because a strong background in science is important, many applicants to optometry school major in a science such as biology or chemistry, while other applicants major in another subject and take many science courses offering laboratory experience. Applicants must take the Optometry Admissions Test, which measures academic ability and scientific comprehension. Admission to optometry school is competitive. As a result, most applicants take the test after their sophomore or junior year, allowing them an opportunity to take the test again and raise their score. A few applicants are accepted to optometry school after 3 years of college and complete their bachelor's degree while attending optometry school.

Optometry programs include classroom and laboratory study of health and visual sciences, as well as clinical training in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. Courses in pharmacology, optics, vision science, biochemistry, and systemic disease are included.

Business ability, self-discipline, and the ability to deal tactfully with patients are important for success. The work of optometrists requires attention to detail and manual dexterity.

Optometrists wishing to teach or conduct research may study for a master's or Ph.D. degree in visual science, physiological optics, neurophysiology, public health, health administration, health information and communication, or health education. One-year postgraduate clinical residency programs are available for optometrists who wish to obtain advanced clinical competence. Specialty areas for residency programs include family practice optometry, pediatric optometry, geriatric optometry, vision therapy and rehabilitation, low-vision rehabilitation, cornea and contact lenses, refractive and ocular surgery, primary eye care optometry, and ocular disease.

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Can ophthalmologist detect a tumor of the brain?

An ophthalmologist may find signs and elicit information about symptoms that would indicate a brain tumor.

An opthalmologist is a medical doctor (unlike an optometrist or optrician, who are not). So they do have general training in medicine.

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For what reason you would go see an ophthalmologist?

To have your eyes checked or treated.


What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist?

An ophthamologist is an M.D. who has been to medical school, and has received a complete medical training. An optometrist has a D.O. (Doctor of Optometry) degree, and is only trained in treating vision problems. Ophthamologists, but not optometrists, can prescribe medications and perform surgery.


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Fuchs' dystrophy?


Fuchs' (pronounced Fooks) dystrophy is an eye disease in which cells lining the inner surface of the cornea slowly start to die off. The disease usually affects both eyes.

Alternative Names

Fuchs' endothelial dystrophy, Fuchs' corneal dystrophy

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Fuchs' dystrophy can be inherited, which means it can be passed down from parents to children. In some families, it is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. That means that if either of your parents has the disease, you have a 50% chance of developing the condition.

However, the condition may also occur in persons without a known family history of the disease.

Fuchs' dystrophy is more common in women than in men. Vision problems usually do not appear before age 50, although doctors may be able to see signs of the disease in affected persons at an earlier age, usually in their 30s and 40s.

Fuchs' dystrophy affects the thin layer of cells that line the back part of the cornea. This layer is called the endothelium. The disease occurs when these cells slowly start to die off. (The cause is unknown.) The cells help pump excess fluid out of the cornea. As more and more cells are lost, fluid begins to build up in the cornea, causing swelling and a cloudy cornea.

At first, fluid may build up only during sleep, when the eye is closed. As the disease gets worse, small blisters may form in the endothelium. The blisters get bigger and may eventually break, causing eye pain. Fuchs' dystrophy can also cause the shape of the cornea to change, causing further vision problems.

SymptomsSigns and tests

A doctor can diagnose Fuchs' dystrophy during a slit-lamp examination.

Additional tests that may be done include:

  • Pachymetry -- measures the thickness of the cornea
  • Specular microscope examination -- allows the doctor to look at thin layer of cells that line the back part of the cornea
  • Visual acuity test

Eye drops or ointments that draw fluid out of the cornea are used to relieve symptoms of Fuchs' dystrophy.

If painful sores develop on the cornea, soft contact lenses or surgery to create flaps over the sores may help reduce pain.

The only cure for Fuchs' dystrophy is a corneal transplant. Fuchs' dystrophy is one of the leading reasons for corneal transplantion in the United States.

Deep lamellar keratoplasty (DLK) is an alternative to a traditional transplant. In this procedure, only the deep layers of the cornea are replaced with donor tissue. The procedure requires no stitches. Recovery time is faster and there are fewer complications, such as rejection.

Expectations (prognosis)

Fuchs' dystrophy gets worse over time. Without a corneal transplant, a patient with severe Fuchs' dystrophy may become blind or have severe pain and very reduced vision.

Mild cases of Fuchs' dystrophy often worsen after cataract surgery. A cataract surgeon will evaluate this risk and may modify the technique or the timing of your cataract surgery.


Complications of Fuchs' dystrophy include:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Mild to severe vision loss
  • Frequent, severe pain as the disease gets worse
Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Eye pain
  • Eye sensitivity to light
  • The feeling that something is in your eye when there is nothing there
  • Vision problems such as seeing halos or cloudy vision
  • Worsening vision
PreventionThere is no known prevention. Avoiding cataract surgery or taking special precautions during cataract surgery may help slow down the course of the disease. References

Cockerham GC, Kenyon KR. The corneal dystrophies. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 16.

Vanmeter WS, Lee WB, Katz DG. Corneal edema. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 16A.

Reviewed By

Review Date: 07/28/2010

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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