What exactly is an ophthalmologist? This is a long complicated medical term, but it is pretty easy to simple down. Ophthalmologists are eye doctors. I know when most people think of eye doctors they think of someone standing in a small kiosk in their local Sam’s Club or Target. Don’t go thinking that you are wrong, the people in Target are eye doctors, but they are called Optometrists.
Now at this point I am sure that you are wondering what the difference between the two is. Well Ophthalmologists and Optometrists both are involved in taking care of the eye, but are separated in many ways. Ophthalmologists have an M.D. in osteopathic medicine and therefore the difference between an Ophthalmologist and a “target eye doctor” is their level of training and what types of eye conditions each is capable of diagnosing. An Ophthalmologist can also perform surgery, treat all eye conditions ranging from mild to severe while Optometrists usually just treat primary care vision problems.
I hope that simplified that up a little bit and helped any confusion you might have about the subject. Now on to what you all are actually here to read about, my ophthalmology appointment today. Today at 9am, I drove downtown to the Cole Eye Institute located on the main campus of Cleveland Clinic to visit with Dr. Lisa Lystad. This is a yearly occurrence which I thoroughly enjoy. The only bad part about it is that unlike visiting an optometrist, ophthalmology appointments usually take about 3-4 hours. So make sure to bring your portable charger and a good, reliable pair of headphones.
This eye doctor appointment went unusually long and frustrating though. A nurse came in and started with asking me to look at a monitor and read the letters the appeared on the screen. I remember reading a series of letters that felt like it dragged on forever. “F, E, P”. Those were the biggest letters on the screen. Felt relieved I could still read those. “P, H, R, O”. I had conquered the second set. I made to about the fifth slide. Obviously I was curious to the amount of vision I had. In one eye, I was totally blind, but we had known that since I was born. In the other eye I had 20/70. Last year I had 20/60… She continued to put a giant machine up to my face and then adjusting the lens to different degrees asking which ones were easier to see. This was so hard and tedious and by the end my eyes were burning.
Just when you think to yourself that there can’t possibly be anymore tests, the nurse walks in again and says “Alright sweetie, now it is time to dilate your eyes”. This is basically the worst part of the ophthalmology appointment. They burn like crazy and if my vision is not bad enough already, these just make it 10 times blurrier. She inserts one drop into each eye and says to me “now we are going to measure your eye pressure”. I am unsure what this means. Crazy, right? I am an experienced visitor here. I don’t really question it, but instead just sit there. She whips out this pen and by this point, I am just utterly confused. She says “look straight ahead and don’t move”. So, I just do what she says without questions. She proceeds to try and stick this giant pen into my eye. Now, as you can imagine, I had a little bit of a panic attack because of the large object being inserted into a place that was very sensitive.
I went back into the waiting room and sat there for a while just waiting for them to call me back in to see the doctor. I saw the doctor and she confirmed that I now have 20/70 vision, that my peripheral vision has gotten much worse and that she recommends genetic testing for me.
All in all, this is was a very informational and helpful appointment per the usual. I learned a lot about my condition and what is available to me in the future. Since I am applying for a guide dog in the near future, I even took the liberty to ask if she thought a guide dog was necessary for me and indeed she thought it would be a excellent idea for me. That was the best news I have gotten in a really long time. I could not be more excited about this.
So, I guess my doctors appointment was a success. I received a lot of new information and it made me both happy and sad. I am so glad that I have doctors who help me along the way to be a better version of myself and to show me some of the tools I can use to better my future. I enjoy to try and look at the positive about every experience. Even though this experience had both its ups and downs, it was an overall good experience and I was happy to be a patient for such a successful team of doctors.