OPHTHALMOLOGY is a specialized field dealing with the medical and surgical treatment of the eye. Ophthalmologists complete a complex four year residency that may be followed by extended fellowships in Vitreoretinal Disease (Retina Specialist), Cataract & Refractive Surgery, Pediatric Ophthalmology, Glaucoma, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery, Ocular Oncology, or Neuro-Ophthalmology.
Ophthalmology and Optometry are different specialties. While Ophthalmologists are medical doctors possessing M.D. degrees, Optometrists complete a four-year postgraduate degree program to earn their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree. Optometrists evaluate general eye health and treat common conditions related to the eye and vision. Ophthalmologists are licensed to perform surgeries and treatments that extend beyond the scope of general optometry.
Ophthalmologists may focus on common medical conditions such as near and far-sightedness (myopia and hyperopia), or glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye). Other common conditions include infections such as conjunctivitis, or injuries resulting in corneal abrasion or retinal detachment. While ocular tumors are rare, specialized ophthalmologists treat tumors such as retinoblastoma and uveal melanoma. Ophthalmologists are also trained in surgery and perform a wide range of procedures such as cataract surgery, laser vision surgery (LASIK), and ocular muscle surgery (myomectomy or myotomy). They also commonly perform oculoplastic surgeries such as blepharoplasty (“eye lift”), orbital reconstruction, and various cosmetic procedures such as injectable fillers and Botox®.
Litigation against ophthalmologists commonly involves allegations of incorrect surgical technique and complications of surgery including bleeding, infection, and damage to adjacent structures. Missed or delayed diagnosis of vision compromising conditions (e.g. glaucoma) is another common source of litigation necessitating ophthalmology medical experts.