How to choose an eye doctor

How to choose an eye doctor

It may be human nature to surround ourselves with people who see things the way we do. But we should also include a few who see things a little differently. This applies especially to your eye doctor.

The person you choose to provide your annual eye exam should be as much an ally as an expert. Above all, he or she should be able to tell you what you need to know about your vision health — even when you don’t see it coming.

Eye care experts generally recommend a comprehensive eye exam every year or 2, depending on age or vision needs.1 And with roughly 60,000 optometrists and ophthalmologists operating in the U.S.,2 there are plenty of choices. Here are 6 considerations we recommend when deciding on the best eye doctor for you.

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1. Get a read on your network
More than 87% of Americans with vision benefits intend to get eye exams within 12 months.3 Many carriers, including EyeMed, offer online portals that enable you to search by proximity, and get a feel for the mix of in-network independent and retail providers. Remember: Staying in-network translates to lower out-of-pocket costs — that means more money in your pocket.

2. Know the O’s
Eye care professionals fall into three categories.4 Be sure to see the right one.

  • Optometrists are primary healthcare professionals for the eye. Doctors of Optometry 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.
  • Ophthalmologists are medical doctors, licensed to diagnose and treat all eye diseases, as well as perform surgery. Think about optometrists and ophthalmologists like your family doctor and a surgeon — except within the vision world, ophthalmology is a specialty within a specialty.
  • Opticians are technicians who fit frames and lenses that have been prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist to correct the patient’s vision.Most practices have an eye doctor (either optometrist or ophthalmologist) and an optician on-site who can assist with eyewear.

3. Frame up references
Put your ear to the ground. Ask co-workers, friends and family members who they recommend.

4. Give credentials a double take
To get more serious about referrals, check with one of several organizations to verify certification and credentials. The National Eye Institute provides a robust list of directories that provide information including licensing and other credentials. One advantage of using a vision carrier, like EyeMed, is that credentials of every in-network eye doctor are thoroughly examined and verified, so you can feel confident you’re getting access to high quality eye care.

5. Be visionary
New technologies can help make exams faster and easier on the eyes, so ask what’s available. For example, a digital retinal photo enables the doctor to save a detailed image of the inside your eye, which may reduce the need for annual pupil dilation and the inconvenience associated with dilation (although some patients may still need dilation because of more complex situations).

6. Make sure the doctor is “in”
Align the doctors on your short list with the hours and locations that suit your lifestyle. Many doctors welcome weekend and evening appointments. If none operate near your employer, chances are you can find one nearby — with easy parking.

  • Look to the horizon
    The eye doctor you choose now may be with you for years, so don’t be short-sighted. EyeMed’s Enhanced Provider Search helps make it easy to find the right eye doctor by location, services, hours, available technology, preferred brands and even spoken languages.

    Make the right choice, and see the difference.


    1. “Eye Exam Cost and When To Have An Eye Exam,” AllABoutVision.com, https://www.allaboutvision.com/eye-exam/preparing.htm Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
    2. “Number of Eye Care Professionals in the United States in 2014 in and 2020,” Statista, https://www.statista.com/statistics/448742/eye-care-professionals-in-the-us-forecast/ Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
    3. “New eye-opening evidence links vision benefits to healthier vision behavior,” National Association of Vision Care Plans, Sept. 26, 2016, https://netforum.avectra.com/eWeb/DynamicPage.aspx?Site=NAVCP&WebCode=ArticleDetail&faq_key=b7066d70-11bc-4fde-8d0a-4027d6cd1fb2 Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
    4. “Difference Between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician,” American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, https://aapos.org/terms/conditions/132 Accessed Nov. 27, 2018
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