Have you by any chance visited your optometrist for an annual eye test, only to discover that there is a problem? The question that arises, is what to do now – should you go ahead and get glasses, or should you consider eye surgery?
Tania Noach, an optometrist at VisionWorks has the following tips:
- Your optometrist should be able to provide the necessary advice on whether or not spectacles or contact lenses offer the best solution for whatever visual anomaly has been identified.
- Should the patient indicate an interest in refractive surgery, they would then be referred to an ophthalmologist for further consultation.
- Remember that refractive surgery is considered on a case-by-case basis, and the ophthalmologist would have to ascertain suitability by virtue of a thorough evaluation of the corneal profile.
- Refractive surgery for clinical reasons does not always fall into this bracket, and may be required in various instances to name a few, such as where one’s spectacles do not provide adequate vision, due to lens thickness and poor optical quality, or due to contact lenses not fitting well, leading to reduced levels of vision. In such cases, the ophthalmologist could provide additional motivation around the procedure to the medical aid provider, and this doesn’t necessarily provide guaranteed approval for them to cover the procedure.
- Surgery may also be necessary for other issues such as cataracts, where the crystalline lens inside the eye becomes opaque and prevents the transmission of light to the back of the eye. Your optometrist will advise whether glasses or contact lenses could still provide better vision, or if a more drastic approach is required. It is dependent on which stage of maturity the cataract presents in. Spectacles cannot provide better visual quality should there be dense opacities in the intraocular lens.
- In emergency situations, such as where there has been trauma and/or bleeding in the eye, where systemic conditions like Diabetes result in bleeding in the retina, if detachment of the retina has occurred, or you suffer from Glaucoma which is a condition where the intraocular pressure in the eye raises such that it can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve, surgery may also be applicable. It could be covered by your medical aid, since these categories are emergency surgical procedures, and are not due to cosmetic reasons.
- No matter how minor it may be, surgery is inevitably a risk, since one cannot predict the healing probability with 100% certainty. However, she believes that patients considering it as a possibility should ensure that they understand the various options and the pros and cons involved. Optometrists and ophthalmologists work closely together in the management of patients, she says, so your optometrist can refer you to the right person should you choose to go ahead.
- Most importantly; love your eyes and take care of them by ensuring that you undertake a visual examination annually. Have all the information on hand regarding your previous eye history and any genetic familial eye conditions and also take your old spectacles with you.
This makes it easier for the optometrist to measure the prescription and compare the changes. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure about any aspect of your vision, your prescription or your options.