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Frequently Asked Questions About Seeing Our Eye Doctors: Optometrist or Ophthalmologist

When to see an ophthalmologist in Burlingame CA

Here at Kim Cooper, MD, Pediatric Ophthalmology & Family Eye Care, we understand that it can be difficult to know when you need an eye exam, and whether you should you see one of our excellent optometrists, or one of our ophthalmologists, Kim Cooper, MD or Rupali Apte, MD. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions from our pediatric ophthalmologist, Dr. Kim Cooper:

Why should I see an ophthalmologist instead of an optometrist?

All of our board certified optometrists do a fabulous job of examining your eyes, prescribing glasses and contact lenses, and diagnosing many different types of eye problems, including progressive myopia. However, they are not medical doctors, and therefore they can't perform the full range of medical treatment that certain eye diseases require. Our ophthalmologists have the training, skills, certification, and experience to perform eye surgery and other complex medical treatments.

What kinds of eye diseases can an ophthalmologist treat?

Dr. Apte diagnoses and treats diseases such as dry eye syndrome, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, macular edema, conjunctivitis, retinal tears or detachment, eye cancer, eyelid abnormalities and tear gland disorders. Dr. Cooper diagnoses and treats strabismus (eyes that are not straight), amblyopia (decreased vision), blocked tear ducts, congenital cataracts, congenital glaucoma, and other eye conditions seen frequently in children. If glasses or medications are insufficient, many of these diseases can be treated surgically.  What kinds of eye injuries can an ophthalmologist treat?

Our ophthalmologists can treat such injuries as corneal abrasions, blunt trauma that causes bleeding in the eye, eye injuries, and exposure to corrosive substances.

What symptoms should I watch out for?

Signs that you might need to visit one of our eye doctors include an increase in "flashing lights or floaters", a sudden distortion or decrease in vision, red, painful or itchy eyes, a reduction in your peripheral vision and any other unusual changes in your vision. 

How often should most adults schedule an examination?

Most adults, between the ages of 18 and 60, should get their eyes examined every 2-3 years. If you have a strong family history of eye problems, like glaucoma or macular degeneration, if you have a known eye problem or vision issues, or if you have diabetes, our eye doctors may recommend yearly (or even more frequent) visits.

I'm over 60. How frequently should I schedule examinations?

Beyond the age of 60, your risk for age-related eye ailments rises, including the risk for sight-robbing diseases such as diabetes, macular degeneration, and cataracts. For this reason, we recommend annual eye exams, so we can diagnose these conditions early and treat them appropriately.

What sort of pediatric eye exam schedule should my children follow?

Your pediatrician begins eye exams at birth and checks both eyes at all well child visits. The pediatrician's staff will begin formal vision testing at about 3 years of age. If there are concerns from the family, or a maternal or paternal family history of crossed eye, crooked eye, lazy eye, patching as a kid, or wearing of glasses at age2- 3 years old, then we recommend the first eye examination be performed by our pediatric ophthalmologist at 1 year of age. This allows our Dr. Cooper to assess eye health for optimal vision, growth, coordination, and academic performance. If there is a family history of dyslexia or learning differences, or a student is not reading at grade level, especially in kindergarten or first grade, we recommend that the student be seen by Dr. Kim Cooper for possible learning disabilities like dyslexia. If there is a family history of myopia (nearsightedness) in either parent, and/or an Asian or East Indian ethnic background, then those children should begin complete dilated eye exams at about 5-7 years of age (unless referred sooner by their pediatrician).

Learn More at Our Burlingame Family Eye Care Center There's no better way to learn all about how our eye doctors can protect your family's ocular health than by scheduling an eye exam and talking to us, in person. Please call 650-259-0300 for an appointment in our Burlingame office. And don't forget to wear your hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen every day and your sports goggles for all sports!