Getting Eye Care
Ophthalmologists and optometrists work together in the Waterloo Region to manage and treat patients with eye disease. We communicate our medical findings and care plans with one another on a regular basis and often rely on each other to co-manage certain patients. Our roles are different but complementary and collaboration allows us to provide excellent care to patients in the Waterloo Region.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists also collaborate with family doctors, emergency room doctors, and specialists and there are several care pathways for patients with eye disease. Below we will outline the different roles of each provider and the common care pathways.
What is an ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists, or eye physicians and surgeons, are specialists who manage patients with eye disease. You require a referral from a primary care provider (optometrist, family doctor, nurse practitioner, emergency room physician) to see an ophthalmologist.
Ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose and treat patients with all levels of eye disease. Patients can be managed medically (drops, medications) or with procedures. Ophthalmologists perform lasers and intraocular (inside the eye) and extraocular (around the eye) surgeries. Many ophthalmologists will have a subspecialty interest such as retina, glaucoma, cornea, paediatrics, oculoplastics and others.
Ophthalmologists go to medical school for 4 years after completing a 4 year undergraduate degree and sometimes also a postgraduate degree (Masters or PhD). Once they complete medical school they begin a 5 year postgraduate ophthalmology residency training program in the management of eye diseases and eye surgery. Several ophthalmologists will then pursue fellowship training in subspecialties that require 1 to 2 more years of training.
Ophthalmologists, like other medical doctors and surgeons, are regulated healthcare professionals governed provincially by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. OHIP covers all medically necessary visits, tests and procedures (lasers and surgeries) performed by an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists are on staff at local hospitals and provide call coverage 24/7 for patients.