It's Orthoptics Awareness Week - a week drawing attention to the work of orthoptists and keeping our eyes healthy, especially as we age.
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
What is an orthoptist and where do they sit in relation to optometrists and ophthalmologists?
Orthoptists diagnose and treat, non-surgically, eye disorders mainly brought on by issues with the muscles around the eyes or defects in the nerves sending messages from the brain.
Optometrists examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, eye and vision diseases or abnormality.
Ophthalmologists are trained doctors specialised in treating diseases and injuries in and around the eye. They act both as physicians, diagnosing and prescribing treatments, and surgeons, performing operations. They often work alongside orthoptists.
An orthoptist’s line of work
Traditionally, orthoptists treat patients with disorders such as squint (strabismus), double vision (diplopia) and lazy eye (amblyopia).
Working more closely with ophthalmologists, they are now involved in caring for patients with eye disease such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, age- related macular degeneration, systemic or neurological vision disorders and low vision.
The big difference is that an orthoptist’s treatment is non-surgical.
It may involve patches, orthoptic exercises, glasses and lighting.
How to keep our eyes healthy
Eye conditions tend to arise as we age.
Conditions such as the inability to focus close up (presbyopia), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration and dry eye are more common in older people.
To put your best foot forward on eye health, it is recommended that you:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle of nutritious food and regular exercise;
Read and enjoy your hobbies with plenty of light on the subject matter;
Take regular breaks from screen time;
When outdoors, wear sunglasses with polarised lenses; and
Protect your eyes when undertaking hazardous work.
The earlier the better
Early diagnosis and treatment of a condition tends to bring a better outcome.
Start at 40
If you are healthy and have no symptoms of vision problems, have a complete eye exam conducted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist at 40, when vision changes and eye diseases are likely to start.
Based on the results of your eye exam, the optometrist or ophthalmologist will recommend how often you should have future eye exams.
Over 60 – every year to two years
If you are 60 or older, have your eyes checked every two years or more often if you:
Wear glasses or contact lenses;
Have a family history of eye disease or loss of vision;
Have a chronic disease that puts you at greater risk of eye disease, such as diabetes; or
Take medications that have serious eye side effects.
Vision Australia speaks of the link between poor vision and falls among older Australians. It also points to studies showing that over 60 per cent of people with ‘poor vision’ only need glasses to improve both their vision and quality of life. Time for a check-up!
* The information provided is not to be taken as medical advice. Please see your GP or optometrist for professional advice.
If you are seeking care for a loved one, please don’t hesitate to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.