Frequently Asked Questions

What is an optometrist?
How is a comprehensive eye and vision exam different from a vision screening?
How often should I get a comprehensive eye and vision exam?
Is it okay to order eyeglasses online?


What is an optometrist?

An optometrist (i.e. OD or Doctor of Optometry) is an eye doctor who has earned a Doctor of Optometry degree. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

Optometrists:

  • Prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.
  • Counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
  • Have completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
  • Are eye health care professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.

How is a comprehensive eye and vision exam different from a vision screening?

A vision screening offers limited effectiveness based on the following factors:

  • Limited testing - Many vision screenings test only for distance visual acuity. While the ability to see clearly in the distance is important, it does not give any indication of how well the eyes focus up close, or work together. It also does not give any information about the health of the eyes.
  • Untrained personnel - Often times a vision screening is conducted by administrative personnel or volunteers who have little training. While well intentioned, these individuals do not have the knowledge to competently assess screening results.
  • Inadequate testing equipment - Even when done in a pediatricians' or primary care physicians' office, the scope of vision screening may be limited by the type of testing equipment available. Factors such as room lighting, testing distances and maintenance of the testing equipment can also affect test results.
Even if a child or adult passes a vision screening, they shouldn't assume that they don't have an eye health or vision problem.

Comprehensive eye and vision exams are the only effective way to confirm or rule out the presence of any eye disease or vision problem.

How often should I get a comprehensive eye and vision exam?

The American Optometric Association and North Carolina Optometric Society recommend the following frequency of eye and vision examinations by age.

 

Asymptomatic/Risk Free

At Risk

Birth to 24 Months

At 6 months of age

At 6 months of age or as recommended

2 to 5 years

At 3 years of age

At 3 years of age or as recommended

6 to 18 years

Before first grade and every two years thereafter

Annually or as recommended

18 to 60 years

Every two years

Every one to two years or as recommended

61 and older

Annually

Annually or as recommended

*Your eye examination schedule may vary based on a multitude of factors that your optometrist will consider and discuss with you. 


Is it okay to order eyeglasses online?

Armed with a prescription from your doctor of optometry, you may think it’s a better option to order your eyeglasses online. But beware, ordering a pair of glasses online is not as easy as purchasing clothing or concert tickets.

Every pair of eyeglasses must be custom-fitted to not just comfortably suit your face, but also to meet your particular prescriptive needs. Here are six benefits to purchasing your eyeglasses from your eye doctor:

  1. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your doctor of optometry, you are provided with verification and inspection of prescription frames and lenses. During the doctor’s office inspection process, the frame and lenses are inspected to make sure the lenses fit properly in the frame and that the lab did not damage the lenses or the frame structures. However, when prescription glasses are ordered online and sent directly to the consumer, the retailer knows the prescription will not be verified for accuracy of the prescription, optical center positioning, bifocal or progressive vertical height measurement, and most importantly, safety of frame and lens materials. Not all lens materials and coatings are the same. There may be a very important health/safety reason why your provider would prescribe a specific material or coating. Additionally, there are many different types of progressive lenses; your doctor will pick the kind that is best for you to help provide you with the best visual experience. Choosing the correct design can make the difference between success and failure when using your new lenses.

  2. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your trusted eye care professional, you gain the educated experience of a professional staff to guide you through the process of finding the best frame fit and style for your face and your vision needs. Additionally, professional staff guide the patient through the multitude of lenses and lens options available.

  3. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your doctor of optometry, the professional staff will properly adjust your new eyewear and make sure that frames fit perfectly on your face. The structure of a frame is made to rest equally on both ears so that the nose doesn’t have to bear the weight of the frame. This three-point touch is not only important when obtaining new eyewear but later, eyewear adjustments may need to be done due to normal wear and tear and abnormal wear and tear.

  4. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your doctor of optometry, you can talk to a team of professionals should you have problems with your prescription, such as headaches, fatigue, blurred vision, distortion, and other symptoms associated with an incorrect prescription.

  5. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your doctor of optometry, you will receive what you’ve ordered. However, when ordering glasses online, you may lose your money! One study of online optical retailers consisted of ordering 200 pairs of prescription eyewear of various degrees of difficulty and frame sizes and shapes from several different websites. More than 50 pairs were never even received. Of those that did arrive, more than 50% had issues with either the accuracy of the prescription or safety standards. Over twenty percent of eyewear tested did not pass impact resistance testing.

  6. When you purchase your eyeglasses from your doctor of optometry, you’ve also received a comprehensive, in-person eye exam to ensure not only an accurate prescription but the health of your eyes as well. There is more to eye care than 20/20 vision and there is more to eyewear than a frame and numbers. Patients should receive an annual comprehensive eye exam and purchase eyewear from a reputable professional who is trained to guide the selection and fit process of frames and lenses, so patients get the best eyewear for their visual needs. When comparing the advantages over the disadvantages of an in-person eyewear purchase, you will quickly find out that your caring eye health care provider sets the gold standard that the vast majority of online vendors cannot live up to.