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A specialist in the field of medicine, including surgery that handles giving a diagnosis and prescribing of treatments for eye disorders is called ophthalmology. Included in their credentials is a degree in medicine, and afterwards is four years of additional residency training. It is not a requirement, but they can continue for residency training in pediatrics, internal medicine, and general surgery prior to receiving the residency training. They can also receive additional training through a fellowship for a specialty in the eye pathology field. This type of specialist is also permitted to treat diseases of the eye(s) by prescribing medications, performing surgeries, and implementing laser therapy should it be needed. This type of specialist can also perform and/or participate in academic research related to the diagnosis and the treatment of eye disorders.

Some of the most common diseases of the eye(s) that are diagnosed, as well as treated by an ophthalmologist include the following:

  • Macular
  • cataract(s)
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Dry eyes
  • Uveitis
  • Proptosis (when the eye(s) bulge out)
  • Eye tumors
  • Strabismus (misalignment of the eyes and deviation of the eyes)
  • Refractive surgery
  • Excessive tearing (when one or both tear ducts are obstructed)

The following are different methods that are used for diagnosing diseases of the eye(s):

  • Refraction
  • Slit lamp examination
  • Visual acuity
  • Intraocular pressure
  • Retina examination

These are different specialized tests:

  • Fluorescein angiography
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Ultrasonography

Eye surgery is what an ophthalmologist does by performing surgery on the eye(s) or the adnexa. This is sometimes referred to as ocular surgery. Eyes are a fragile organ, requiring extra care prior to surgery, as well as during surgery, and especially post-surgery procedures. The ophthalmologist or rather the eye surgeon takes on the responsibility of choosing the correct surgical procedure the patient needs to have, including all the safety precautions that will be necessary. Sub-specialties of an ophthalmology will handle particular diseases of the eye(s) or different parts of the eye(s) that re diseased. There are some of those found listed below.

Some of those sub-specialties are:

Vitreo-retinal surgery (the handling of surgical management of the retinal, including post segment diseases. Vitreo-retinal and medical retinal surgery often are combined, which is referred to as posterior segment sub-specialization)

  • Glaucoma
  • Anterior segment (surgery)
  • Medical retina (this has to do with the treatment of the problems that occur with the retinal using non-surgery methods)
  • Cornea (has an ocular surface and is an external disease)
  • Paediatric ophthalmology/strabismus (this is a misalignment of eyes)
  • Neuro-ophthalmology
  • Ophthalmic pathology
  • Ocular oncology
  • Oculoplastics (including orbit surgery)
  • Uveitis
  • Refractive surgery
  • Veterinary (There are some countries that make specialty training programs available for veterinary ophthalmology)

Ophthalmology means the study on the eye(s), which is derived from the Greek language. Although the differences between animal and human eyes may differentiate the same discipline still applies to both and this is due to practices and procedures being similar in respect to the disease process.

A professional ophthalmologist is someone who has received a college degree, attended medical school, and did their performed their residency training for ophthalmology. During their training they are taught to use medical equipment as eye specialist in order to be able to do a full spectrum in eye care, which includes the ability for prescribing prescription eye glasses and contact lenses, complex micro-surgery, and medical treatment. Ophthalmologists in other countries sometimes take training in sub-specialties. Furthermore, it was the first branch in medicine that was offered a board of certification.

During the 17th and the 18th centuries micro-scopes had been used by Leeuwenhoek, hand lenses had been used by Malpighi, and Petit began using the method of freezing the eye(s). This lead the way for more studies on the eyes having an advance model that gave more details. There were several mistakes which persisted like the reason for the size of the pupils changing (which appeared to be the blood vessels in the iris having blood in them), there had also been posterior chamber and retina existing at this time. Also, it was during this time period that Leeuwenhoek had noted that there was some existence of photo-receptors, but later in 1834 it had been properly discovered by Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus. As a leader for the First Viennese School of Medicine, Georg Joseph Beer (1763 to 1821), who was an ophthalmologist from Austrian. He also is the one to introduce to the world, the flap operation for treating cataracts, also known as the Beer’s operation, including the Beer’s knife, which he also made popular, it was used for performing the surgeries.

Then there were the more prominent opticians from the late 19th century and the early 20th century, which included the co-owner of the Zeiss Jena factories located in Germany Ernst Abbe (1840 to 1905), he had developed many optical instruments in these factories. In 1851, Hermann von Helmhholtz (1821 to 1894) invented the ophthalmoscope, and prior to that he made contributions in several different areas of science, both of which presented theoretical calculations towards image formation of the optical systems, included in his studies were also the optics of the eye(s). Considered the founding father for the German Ophthalmological Society, Albrecht von Graefe of Berlin, made improvements to cataract surgery, and also was the one who introduced iridectomy to be used as a treatment of glaucoma.

The first person to ever use lasers in their practice was the head of the Faculty, as well as the head of the Warsaw Clinic of Ophthalmology (1963 to 1976), which was Zofia Falkowska (1915 to 1993). Dating as far back as the 13th century, was the Polish ophthalmology, and founded in 1911 was the Polish Ophthalmological Society which Adam Zamenhof (1888 to 1940) was chosen as the representative leader. He introduced specific diagnostic, surgical, and non-surgical procedures for the care of eyes, and in 1940 he had been shot to death by the Nazis.