What is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and a Retina Specialist?

With different doctors and types of specialists mentioned in eye care, how do you know which one to see for your specific needs? When it comes to diseases and surgery of the retina, it is easy to feel confused or overwhelmed about which type of provider you should visit. What is the difference between an ophthalmologist and a retina specialist?

An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care. Board certified ophthalmologists are required to complete four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship training and a minimum of three years of supervised training in an accredited ophthalmology residency program. Ophthalmologists are then able to diagnose and treat all eye diseases and vision problems, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses and perform eye surgery. 

A retina specialist is an ophthalmologist who has undergone additional training to become an expert in the diagnosis, management and treatment of diseases and surgery of the vitreous body of the eye (watery gel between the lens and the retina) and the retina. Retina specialists treat conditions ranging from age-related macular degeneration and retinal detachment to cancers of the eye. They also treat patients who have experienced severe eye trauma as well as children and adults with hereditary diseases of the eye.

Your first course of treatment in eye care should be a visit with an ophthalmologist. After a comprehensive exam, your doctor will then determine if it is necessary to refer you to a retina specialist. The most common reasons for referral include risk of a vitreous or retinal conditions, to evaluate a tear or break in the retina, for treatment of diabetic retinopathy with high-risk characteristics, macular edema, age-related macular degeneration, endophthalmitis, eye cancers and eye floaters. In cases of trauma, a retinal specialist can provide an emergency treatment plan, including retinal detachment surgery. If you experience any trauma to the eye or vision-related crisis, do not hesitate to contact your eye doctor as soon as possible. 

Making time to see an eye care professional makes all the difference in receiving the proper care and treatment for your vision needs. Problems affecting the delicate tissues in the back of the eye, such as the retina and vitreous, are best left in the care of experts in their respective fields. To learn more about our team of ophthalmologists and retinal specialists at Retina Consultants of Nevada, please give us a call at 702-369-0200 or visit WEBSITE.