When you are having problems with your eyes and vision, it is often not clear cut which eye care professionals you should contact first. However, it may be obvious for those who work in the industry, not so much for everyone else.
Consider this scenario; you woke up with a really painful red eye. Would you go to your GP, straight to the hospital or to a private eye specialist rooms?
Going to your GP is obvious for any health-related problems. Having a painful red eye certainly fits in the spectrum of health issues. However, would you expect your GP to diagnose your eye-related problems without any specialised ophthalmic equipment? Granted, some ocular conditions do not need specialised instruments, especially a few ocular diseases can go away on their own. Many eye diseases can cause a painful red eye – some require further assessment to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis. In most cases, your GP would need to rule out other sinister causes for your eye problems, in which case a referral to either an eye specialist (surgeon) or at least an optometrist who has these types of equipment to assess your eyes adequately.
You may not be able to get to see your GP last minute. You could go to the hospital and present yourself in the emergency department. They may not have an ophthalmology (eye specialist) registrar rostered. In which case, you would be seen by a general doctor who again would need to refer you on to the eye specialist.
Seeing Your Optometrist
Your local optometrist in Canberra would be able to at least look at your eyes with their specialised equipment. Your optometrist accesses eyes all the time, and whether or not they are medically trained, they could most certainly tell if your eyes would need urgent attention.
Optometrists are often much more accessible than your GP, your eye specialist and definitely the hospital. In most cases, at Capital Eye in Canberra, we plan our clinical diary to accommodate any urgent requests from our existing patients and other health professionals like your GP. Our optometry practice is fully equipped to access any ocular condition you may be presented with.
If you’re an existing patient of our practice and we’ve seen you previously, we already have comprehensive clinical notes regarding your eyes. Any sudden presentation that differs from your latest consultation helps us immensely in diagnosing potential new eye problems.
What if You Needed to See an Eye Specialist?
In rare cases where your local optometrist cannot diagnose, treat or manage the eye issue you are having, you may need to see an ophthalmologist. You may think you could make an appointment with the eye specialist in the first place to avoid all the trouble together. However, eye specialists are often eye surgeons and have a long list of patients requiring scheduled and urgent ocular surgery. Unless your condition requires eye surgery, in most cases, you wouldn’t need to see an eye specialist saving you time (and money).
In any case, before seeing an ophthalmologist, you would require a referral to be eligible for the Medicare rebate, which would need to either see your GP or your optometrist to organise the referral. Your specialist would appreciate a preliminary assessment from your optometrist to ensure you receive the best treatment possible.
The Bottom Line
For any problems, you want to see someone with the equipment, knowledge and expertise to provide you with the advice you are seeking. With eye problems, it is in your best interest to see someone with specialised equipment to assess your eyes. Not everyone has these types of equipment, and certainly not all GPs practices would have this.
You only have one set of eyes. With any eye problems, we believe it needs to assessed quickly with the matter dealt with swiftly. Your optometrist would be the first port of call for any eye problems. At Capital Eye, we are equipped to deal with any potential ocular emergencies and have an excellent working relationship with local eye specialists to ensure you are well looked after.