Eye Problems: Frequently Asked Questions

If you develop eye problems, it is important to see the right healthcare professional at the right time. Each of the professionals mentioned above has a unique role to play in helping you.

Ophthalmologist:

An ophthalmologist is a medically qualified doctor and deals specifically with the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders. Ophthalmologists are also surgically training for the management of cataracts and other conditions such as lid lumps. Consultant ophthalmologists are therefore highly experienced clinicians and have the greatest expertise in managing eye disorders. An accurate and early diagnosis will ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment and a great improvement in your quality of life.

Miss Sivagnanavel has over 15 years of experience in managing retinal and general ophthalmic disorders and cataract surgery. She also has experience in research and was awarded a clinical excellence award in 2014, London. Read her full biography here.

Optometrist:

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who are trained in the primary care of visual problems. They provide sight testing and can assess and prescribe the necessary corrective glasses or contact lenses. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. Although they are not medically trained in the same way an ophthalmologist is, they do obtain qualifications from the College of Optometrists and are experienced at detecting eye abnormalities. They may then choose to refer to a specialist ophthalmologist. Some optometrists are licenced to prescribe some medicines, such as for the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Optician:

Opticians are trained to design, verify and fit spectacles, and ensure that the frames are fitted to the best standards. They also fit contact lenses and other devices to correct eyesight. They play an invaluable role in assisting patients with poor sight by helping to identify the best visual aids. They do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians do not diagnose or treat eye problems and diseases.

It is not uncommon for opticians to discover pigmented lesions on the retina or changes in the appearance of the optic nerve. These have probably been there a while but have only been identified at a very careful examination by your optician. Most of these are harmless and are the equivalent of birthmarks in the eye. Cancer type lesions in the eye are very rare and an examination by a retina specialist can help to differentiate between these lesions. Most patients can be reassured.

If you notice an abnormality with your sight or your optician has informed you that an abnormality has been detected, seeking the help of an eye specialist will be the first step in protecting your sight.

Care should be sought urgently (within 1-2 days) if you have developed any of these symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of visual blurring or visual loss
  • Distortion (straight lines appear irregular or slanted)
  • A grey or dark patch that may suddenly appear in your vision, particularly in the centre
  • Sudden onset floaters (grey black spots, strings or cobweb type abnormalities) that may be associated with flashing lights
  • A shadow or curtain-like area of vision loss in the periphery (side) of your vision
  • Halos (coloured or white circles around lights)
  • Double vision (seeing two of objects viewed)
  • Sudden onset pain around the eye
  • Injury to the eye

Worsening pain, vision or redness after cataract surgery or intravitreal injections into the eye (contact your eye doctor immediately as this may need urgent treatment to protect your vision).

If you want to book an appointment to examine your eye problems, simply call us on the phone number above or use the contact form to make your request. Our team of friendly and caring administrative staff are available from 8.00 AM to 18.00 PM Monday to Friday.

If an appointment time for one of the scheduled clinics in London is not convenient, other appointment times can often be arranged in the evenings or Saturday morning by special request.

If you are paying for the consultation yourself, you may book directly. If you are covered by a medical insurance policy, you must obtain an authorisation number from your insurer prior to your consultation. Your insurer will also require that your GP makes a referral. Some insurance companies do not recognise direct referrals from your optician. Please check this with the relevant insurer prior to your appointment.

Miss Sivagnanavel is a registered provider by all major insurance companies and is BUPA fee assured.

The consultation will consist of a relaxed discussion session during which you can tell your doctor your eye problems, concerns and symptoms. This will be followed by an examination session. During this, your eyesight will be assessed on a vision chart and then your eye will be examined using a specialised biomicroscope. This will involve using eye drops to enable your eye pressure to be assessed. Sometimes further eye drops will be used to make your pupils large (dilation). This will allow a more detailed examination of your retina and optic nerves.

If your pupils are dilated, your vision will be blurred for about 4 hours. Ideally, you should not drive to your consultation, as it is difficult to predict if you will need to be dilated.

After the assessment, further investigations may be ordered or if required, appropriate treatment options will be discussed.