Chapter 2 – The First Step: Confirm the Diagnosis
Confirming the Diagnosis at Our Eye Clinic
When receiving the news that you have macular degeneration (AMD) and new glasses will no longer improve your vision, the shock can be overwhelming. For eye doctors, macular degeneration is not difficult to diagnose, so a second opinion is not absolutely essential. Before you panic or wonder how you will manage, consider if you feel the need for a second opinion on the diagnosis.
Whether or not you get that second medical opinion, you must understand that you will be dealing with two issues:
- The medical condition causing the vision loss
- The vision loss itself
You will need different kinds of specialists for each of these issues.
The Macula Is a Part of the Retina
First deal with the medical issue causing vision loss. As I said, macular degeneration is a relatively easy diagnosis but if you feel uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong or inappropriate in asking the diagnosing doctor for a referral for a second opinion. Doctors are accustomed to those requests and are not upset by them.
The medical opinion should be from a doctor who specializes in your particular condition. For example, if it is macular degeneration, the second opinion should be from a retinologist because the macula is part of the retina. If glaucoma, seek the second opinion should be from a glaucoma specialist.
Type Of Eye Doctors
1- General Ophthalmologist
A graduate of a medical school (MD or DO), followed by a residency in ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists are licensed to diagnose and treat eye diseases and disorders with medicine, surgery, glasses or contact lenses.
2- Specialist Ophthalmologist
There are many subspecialties in ophthalmology, such as retina, glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, cornea, cataracts, etc. These ophthalmologists have completed specialty residency programs.
A graduate of an accredited school of optometry (OD), optometrists are licensed to diagnose eye diseases and disorders. There are various levels of licensure for optometrists, depending upon state law and level of advanced education:
- Diagnose disease and disorders
- Diagnose and treat eye disease and disorders except for glaucoma
- Diagnose and treat eye disease and disorders including glaucoma
- Diagnose and treat eye disease and disorders including minor surgery
Some optometrists limit their practices to one service such as contact lenses, vision therapy or low vision.
The “pharmacists” of eye care, opticians fill the prescriptions. Laboratory opticians actually fabricate the glasses. Dispensing opticians fit the glasses to the patients.
Most optometrists are also experts in the duties of an optician.
It may take some effort, but doing the proper research to find the best specialist is strongly advised.
Regarding vision options, it is critically important to know that the doctors who are treating your medical condition are not your best source of information regarding your vision condition. You must investigate all your vision options and not assume “nothing more can be done”. Information on vision options follows in Chapter 4.
“Macular Degeneration is a serious condition and must be correctly diagnosed. A second opinion, especially by a retina specialist, is always a good idea”
Dr. John Maggiano, Retinologist, Orange County Retina, Southern California