Eye Care

Did you know that vision impairment affects an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. alone? That makes vision-related problems among the leading causes of disability in American adults. They're also among the most common disabling conditions in children.

The good news is that many vision problems are preventable with proper eye care. This is true even for those related to aging, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

However, achieving that goal means finding the best eye care for you.

Don't worry, though; we're here to help. We've compiled the top tips to help you find the best eye care provider, so keep reading.

Determine Which Eye Doctor You Need

There are two kinds of eye doctors: optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Optometrists are Doctors of Optometry, but they aren't medical doctors. Still, they can conduct eye exams and diagnose and treat vision disorders.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who can perform the same tasks as optometrists. However, as medical doctors, they can also carry out eye surgeries.

You can go to an optometrist if you need glasses, contact lenses, or eye medicines. Likewise, you can visit one for regular eye examinations, which you should get every two years. These tests can help catch the signs of aging-related eye woes like glaucoma and cataract.

You can also check in with an optometrist if you have cataracts or glaucoma symptoms. They share similar symptoms, including blurry or hazy vision and light sensitivity.

If you're unsure which of those two you have, an optometrist can tell you how cataracts vs glaucoma differ. They may then refer you to an ophthalmologist if your condition requires surgery. They may also do the same for other severe eye disorders or injuries.

Consider Your Health Insurance

If you're part of the 92% of Americans with health insurance, use it to find an eye care provider. Health plans in the country provide coverage for things like eye exams and glasses.

Your health insurance provider should give you a list of eye doctors who are part of their network. Check it to see doctors with clinics near your home or office. The closer, the better, as you want to be able to visit them anytime, especially during emergencies.

If family or friends gave you recommendations, confirm they're in-network doctors. It's not enough that they "accept" your insurance. They must be part of your insurer's network to give you a discounted rate.

Do a Bit of Digging

Once you have a list of prospective eye care providers, check their credentials. They must have a valid license, which all U.S. states require. You can get usually get this information from the websites of your prospects.

Next, run each doctor's license information via your state's lookup tool. You can also use the license lookup tools found on the website of Health Guide USA.

After confirming your prospects have valid licenses, check their histories next. Pay particular attention to records regarding malpractice or negligence. Avoid those with too many complaints, as this may signify the low quality of health care they provide.

Just as vital is to check each eye care provider's areas of specialization. For instance, suppose you're thinking of getting your vision corrected with surgery. In this case, choose a doctor specializing in LASIK.

Check Online Patient Reviews

While browsing each eye doctor's website, check if they have patient reviews. You may also find these on other sources, such as social media and business directories. You can also type the doctor's name on your browser and add the keyword "reviews."

Please read as many as possible, and don't focus only on testimonials. Instead, read the negative reviews, too; this can give you a better insight into your prospects.

Visit the Doctors' Offices in Person

At this point, your prospect list should be down to three or four eye care providers. To help finalize your choice, visit their offices.

During your visit, take note of the staff's behaviors. They should be polite yet make you feel comfortable. If they sound rude or seem like they're in a rush while talking with you, take that as a red flag.

Look at the facilities, too. Are they clean, comforting, and relaxing? The last thing you want is to get your eyes checked in a messy, unkempt clinic.

Visiting the eye care providers' offices can also give you an idea of their timeliness. For example, if their clinic hours are from 9 AM to 12 noon and 1 PM to 5 PM, the doctor should be there during these times. You don't want to choose one who keeps their patients waiting.

Use your visit to talk to other patients, as well. Ask them how they feel and what they think of the eye doctor. If they're happy, that's a good sign, but be wary if they have several complaints.

Schedule an Eye Exam

Once you get to know the doctors better through their facilities, staff, and patients, it's time to get an eye exam. Schedule one with the eye care provider who passes all your previous "tests." If you have two final prospects, you can see them both and use the other to get a second opinion.

During the exam, pay attention to the eye doctor's demeanor. They must perform a thorough exam lasting more than 10 minutes. If it takes less than that, it's a red flag that the eye care provider rushes things.

The best eye doctor for you also explains things in a way you can understand. They should try their best to avoid using complex medical jargon. They should also answer all your questions clearly and not make you even more confused.

Choose the Best Eye Care For You

Please remember that vision problems are more common as people age. Fortunately, most are preventable, while others are treatable if diagnosed early. That's enough reason to find the best eye care for you ASAP.

So, follow our tips to start your search for the right eye doctor. The sooner you do, the sooner you can get your eyes checked and do what you can to keep them healthy!

For more health tips and tricks, browse our latest guides and blog posts!