Fergus Falls Optometric Center
"Family Eyecare from the Eyecare Family."
Dr. Mark D. Olmsted and Dr. Christine A. Olmsted
117 E. Lincoln Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN 56537
Appointments: 218-736-7555

Modern Day Optometric Services - 14 Feb 2005

Modern Day Optometric Services
14 Feb 2005

Mark D. OlmstedI recently had the opportunity to provide pre and post operative cataract care for my father. Not only did I diagnose his problem and refer him for surgery, but I also drove him to his surgical appointments at the Minneapolis VA Clinic. How many optometrists do you know who drive their patients to their cataract surgery? Now THAT’S service!!! The VA ophthalmology department was duly impressed.

I learned something on these epic journeys…that my own father had no idea what I’ve been doing professionally for the last 20 years! I could chalk this up to father-son issues or the fact that my dad doesn’t like going to any type of doctor. Mildly annoyed by this, I educated him about optometry. Mild annoyance turned to mild alarm a few days later, when patients that I have seen for over a decade in Fergus Falls were surprised at some of the services that my wife and I as optometrists provide.

My dad, like many in the general public, was of the mind set that all optometrists do is prescribe eyewear…period. This was nearly true over 50 years ago. Of course technology and education have advanced tremendously and the field of optometry has been a very dynamic one over the last 20 years. Optometrists are not only trained in optics, but highly trained in ocular (eye) disease and ocular side effects from systemic diseases. The Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.), allows optometrists to prescribe topical medication for eye problems in all 50 states. Oral medications may be prescribed in 37 states (or so) when needed for serious eye allergies, pain or infection. (Minnesota has updated its laws since the writing of this article and now allows certified optometrists like Dr. Mark & Dr. Christine Olmsted to prescribe oral medications for the eye for the above situations.)

Traditional, routine eye exams have become much more thorough. Not only looking for problems that require glasses, contacts, or visual therapy exercises for functional shortfalls, but also for diseases and anomalies like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal holes and detachments, diabetic eye disease, the rare internal eye tumor, skin cancer the eyelid or face, as some examples. When a problem is within the scope of the optometric license, we treat it. When something requires referral, we send the patient to the appropriate type of eye surgeon. One can think of the modern day optometrist as the general practitioner of eyes.

Examples of eye diseases that we treat include glaucoma, infections, and allergies. It is an uncommon day when we don’t write or refill a prescription that can only be filled at a pharmacy. When someone gets a foreign object in the eye like embedded surface rust, we remove it and prescribe antibiotics during the healing process. Severe dry eye patients are treated in our office by implanting punctal plugs, blocking tear drainage.

My dad was surprised by the post-cataract surgical care I provided for him. Most ophthalmologists (eye surgeons) will send the patient back to the referring optometrist anywhere between 1-3 weeks after surgery, depending on the case. The optometrist’s job is to monitor the healing process, manage the inflammation, watch for infection, and alter the medication schedule as required. After about 6 weeks the eye is usually healed enough to prescribe glasses.

Optometrists are also the beginning and the end when LASIK refractive surgery is chosen by the patient. We must provide the important pre-surgical information and rule out any eye problems that are contraindicated for LASIK. The patient returns to us most commonly one day after the procedure and we must watch for complications during a 6 month period.

While the routine eye exams take up much of our typical day, one can see that there is much more to optometry than meets the eye… (Sorry…I couldn’t resist)

Dr. Mark D. Olmsted