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Doctor vs. Technician: What’s the difference?

At 4Sight iCare we pride ourselves in providing the best of care with the best equipment.  That is why we’ve invested in the state-of-the-art technology that provides the best quality care with less irritation, no air puff, quicker refractions (1 vs. 2), and quality time with the doctor to discuss all eye related symptoms you are experiencing.  Unfortunately, this is not the case in all of the eye care industry.  An industry leader recently compared his vision exam at a big box store as “the same” as an eye exam at a private office, and hearing this was downright disturbing.  So we want to set the record straight in our own small way.  Here is our list as to why you want an annual wellness eye exam with an eye doctor who is empowered with the tools of a private office and an active member of the state and national associations supporting their profession.  There are four general sub-types of practices out there in the wide spectrum of eye care, and they look something like this:

1st (the Ophthalmology practice):  Don’t visit a surgeon for a visit that this not pre-op, post-op, or currently surgical in nature.  You will be seeing the technician and the waiting room for far longer than the doctor.  Surgeon’s do not have the time to discuss prevention and wellness care; their main role is to repair damage, assess severe cases of disease that may require surgical intervention, and evaluate and manage patients’ eyes who have recently gone under the knife.  You should experience coordinated care between your family Optometrist and the surgeon recommended by your eye doctor in conjunction with your insurance.

2nd (opticals that advertise cheap eye exams):  Don’t visit a place that cheapens the doctor visit.  If you understand that the visit to the eye doctor is primarily to check eye health once a year, then you know the most important part of the exam shouldn’t be reduced to a formality.  A thorough health examination should include pupil reactivity, eye alignment, color and stereoscopic vision tests, eye muscle activity, and internal and external eye structure evaluations.  If you ever feel you were not provided these minimum requirements please reference this list as defined by Illinois law.  At 4Sight iCare we proudly post this in our waiting room so every patient knows what they should expect as a part of a wellness eye exam.  And if you ever feel like you were rushed through an exam, you probably were; consider the number of $29 eye exams a doctor must see in a day to make what the doctor needs to pay off professional school loans, the lease of space, and live. NEVER visit a place with cheap eye exams if you have copay insurance.  Your exam copay will cover the basic exam anywhere, whether that exam costs the public $55 or $130.  If you value your eyes, you want the $130 quality exam at the same copay price because your copay is your copay no matter where you go (so long as they are a provider of that insurance).  If you have an exam copay, pick the best place to get an exam, not the one that advertises the cheapest exams in town!  If you bought a coupon valued for up to $130 for $10, you wouldn’t use it to buy a something less than its value; so why would you do this with your vision plan benefit?  YOU MIGHT AS WELL THROW YOUR INSURANCE IN THE GARBAGE IF IT DOESN’T GET YOU AN AFFORDABLE, QUALITY EYE EXAMINATION.  You value your eyes; shouldn’t the doctor who’s checking their health value her/his profession?I'm Waiting

3rd (a local Optometrist [OD] you trust but isn’t in the AOA):  There are still plenty of private optometrists who do good work and are otherwise great doctor locations to recommend but for one glaring omission.  If you can’t find your potential new eye doctor on the national registry with the American Optometric Association, they may not plan to be involved in the profession much longer or perhaps they just don’t like their profession.  Membership in the AOA is optional and is maintained by doctors of Optometry that care about the future of the profession and respect their position in the eye care community.  Those who do not show up on the web search do not belong to the one organization to which all OD’s should belong.AOA_horiz

4th (Places like 4Sight iCare):  If you find a location that has doctors involved in their local group of the AOA like Dr. Burke (President of the West Suburban Optometric Society), has the latest equipment to test the health of the eyes as well as the vision, and has respect for the professional you trust to care for your eyes, you’ve got a winning combination and should gain a great rapport for once a year wellness exams.  Continuity of care is important, but quality should come first.  Once you’ve found a quality location be sure to have your annual wellness eye exam once a year to check eye health and demonstrate your best vision.