Dry Eye: Why See a Specialist?

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female eye doctor checking patient's vision

Dry eye is a complex problem that affects everyone differently. That’s why all dry eye patients should follow unique treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. But your primary care doctor may not have all the information you need to manage your dry eye successfully. That’s where specialists come in: an eye specialist, called an ophthalmologist, has the right skills and insight to help you stay in control of your dry eye. Here’s why:

1. An ophthalmologist completes extensive training in dry eye and is an expert in dry eye care.

An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in treating diseases related to the eyes. Ophthalmologists must train extensively to master this area of study. An ophthalmologist will have expertise in treating dry eye and other ocular surface conditions.

All doctors complete a training program called an internship after they finish medical school. But ophthalmologists receive considerable training beyond that. Ophthalmologists spend three or more additional years in a residency, during which they train under experienced ophthalmologists managing patients with dry eye and issues affecting the eyes. At the end of this training, specialists are eligible to become board-certified ophthalmologists. Look for a doctor who is board certified in ophthalmology, and you’ll know you’re seeing an expert. 

2. An ophthalmologist never stops learning about dry eye.

To maintain their board certifications, ophthalmologists must keep up with new developments in their field. They must complete continuing education and renew their licenses every few years, depending on the state in which they practice and other factors. By following these requirements, board-certified ophthalmologists stay on top of new treatments and discoveries about the mechanisms involved in dry eye, so they can then provide their patients with insightful, informed, and up-to-date treatment plans.

3. An ophthalmologist has extensive experience in treating dry eye.

Ophthalmologists see a higher volume and concentration of patients with dry eye, and thus are more experienced in treating the condition successfully. Because they see lots of patients with dry eye, they can add real-world knowledge of the disease to their academic and clinical training. They’re able to assess how well patients respond to certain treatments, have a deeper understanding of how dry eye progresses over time, share insight about effectively implementing lifestyle changes, and recognize symptoms that a general practitioner may miss, among other skills.

4. An ophthalmologist is a team player.

Ophthalmologists work with teams of other health care providers who treat patients with dry eye and can connect patients with pharmacists, eye surgeons, nutritionists, specialized massage therapists, and other experts in dry eye management. Working with a team can help patients address all aspects of the problem and ensure success.

5. It’s easy to find the right ophthalmologist for you.

There are thousands of ophthalmologists in the United States, so how do you know which is the right doctor for you? By searching on Healthgrades.com, you can identify the best ophthalmologist to help you manage your dry eye successfully.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 May 24
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.