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6 Tips for Choosing an Optometrist

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Megan Freedman on April 5, 2017
  • Woman with optometrist
    1. Get Referrals
    Optometrists give eye exams, prescribe vision-correcting eyeglasses and contact lenses, and diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions. For more complex conditions or when surgery is necessary, optometrists refer patients to ophthalmologists (medical doctors who treat eyes). If you need a new optometrist, ask your family, friends, and perhaps your primary care doctor for recommendations. Take the time to research the doctors’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. You can also search the American Board of Optometry’s website.
  • Couple using laptop
    2. Research the Optometrist’s Credentials
    Education tells you an optometrist has the necessary training and skills to treat a variety of vision and eye problems. Optometrists must complete four-year Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degrees, in addition to four years of undergraduate college. Also confirm the optometrist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the eye doctor’s optometry school, training, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
  • Optometrist
    3. Consider the Optometrist’s Experience
    Experience matters when you’re facing eye problems or conditions that could affect your vision. The more experience an optometrist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition, such as glaucoma, the optometrist has treated. A few states allow optometrists to perform certain types of eye surgery, such as LASIK. If you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the optometrist has performed. Ask the eye doctor about complication rates—complications the optometrist has encountered, as well as your own risk of complications.
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  • Optometrist
    4. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose an optometrist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the optometrist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways you understand? Find an optometrist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
  • Man on laptop
    5. Review Patient Satisfaction Surveys
    Reading what other people have to say about an optometrist can provide insight into how a provider practices eye healthcare, as well as how his or her optometry practice is operated. Patient satisfaction surveys typically ask people about their experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn about how well patients trust the eye doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.
  • health-insurance-patient-at-doctors-office
    6. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Many people do not have vision insurance. If you do have a vision plan, you will need to choose an optometrist who participates in your plan to receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out of pocket for your care. You should still consider credentials, experience, communication style, and patient satisfaction as you select an optometrist from your plan.
Choosing an Optometrist | Tips for Choosing an Eye Doctor
  1. What is a Doctor of Optometry? American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/about-the-aoa/what-is-a-doctor-of-optometry?sso=y
  2. Optometric surgical privileges improve access to care, ease financial burdens. Healio. http://www.healio.com/optometry/primary-care-optometry/news/print/primary-care-optometry-news/%7Bcb1...

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2017 Feb 17
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.