Imagine, you woke up this morning with excruciating pain in or around your eyes. Your vision has suddenly gone quite blurry. You realised that your eyes have been feeling since the beginning of this month. Who should you see regarding all these eye problems that you’ve experienced recently?
Your Family Doctor
Your family doctor or your general practitioner (G.P) is most likely the first person that might comes to mind. Granted our G.P and primary health care workers are our first port of call. Your G.P can take a brief medical history and uses this in consideration of your situation. But beyond measuring your vision (visual acuity), it is difficult for a G.P to come up with a diagnosis. The assessment of your eyes by your G.P is limited by what equipment is available at their practice.
With any medical diagnosis, a detailed examination of your eyes would give any health practitioner a good chance of arriving with a correct diagnosis. A slit lamp is a vital piece of equipment used to evaluate your eye health comprehensively. This equipment is found in all ophthalmology practices and almost all optometry practices.
A slit lamp allows the health practitioner to examine your eyes under high magnification. Without a slit lamp, it is challenging to triage any ocular condition. Prompt assessment of your eyes is required for complex eye conditions. Sudden experience of pain near or around your eyes or sudden loss of vision are complex cases and often requires an urgent appointment.
In an average G.P clinic, your family doctor would not have access to a slit lamp. Using a slit lamp proficiently requires specialist training and hours of practise to perfect the skill. In most cases, if your eye condition is beyond a standard conjunctivitis or, “pink eye” your G.P would most likely refer your case out to a clinic with skills and expertise to operate a slit lamp.
Your Emergency Department
Our emergency department is designed to triage life-threatening conditions. Most urban hospitals are equipped with an ophthalmology department and hence can attend to your needs. However, access is somewhat difficult and delayed if you don’t have an appropriate referral. The triage nurse at the emergency department may not understand or appreciate the urgency of your eye condition if you don’t present with a valid referral.
Some ocular diseases such as a retinal tear, or acute glaucoma require urgent attention as they are sight-threatening. Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can make the diagnosis of these sight-threatening conditions. Should immediate treatment is needed, this would be indicated in the referral for you to take to the emergency department. With a valid referral, this often places you in an appropriate priority to be seen without having to waste hours of your time in the waiting room.
If you have a preexisting ocular condition and sees your ophthalmologist routinely for treatment, letting them know that your eyes have changed suddenly is the best course of action. Your eye specialist already has a comprehensive understanding of your ocular condition, and if any additional treatment is required, it could be performed in-office, on the same day.
However, if you’re a new patient, making an appointment with an ophthalmologist without first seeing an optometrist (or your G.P) can be difficult; especially if your condition is urgent. In some cases, your condition won’t require surgical treatment in which case, your visit to an eye surgeon may not be warranted.
The benefit of seeing the optometrist first is that they are well equipped to deal with any eye problems. Often, optometrists are quite accessible and available. They are well trained to diagnose any eye conditions will organise prompt referral if required. Your condition could be very mild, and when presented to a G.P, they referred you to an emergency department which is overservicing. Your eyes may not require surgery, so seeing an ophthalmologist, although comprehensive, may not be necessary.
The Bottom Line
At Capital Eye, we have the latest equipment to make an accurate diagnosis of your eye condition. With a diagnosis, it allows us to point you in the right direction for urgent treatment or management. We serve our local community in Barton; a 10-minute drive from Griffith, Kingston and Forrest. We are easily accessible with plenty of street-side parking. You can make an instant booking online and welcome new patients. We look forward to helping you in our practice.