Knowing Your Eye and Ear Specialists
Who Are My Eye Specialists?
Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all provide health care services specifically for eye issues. It is important to understand what each of the three is qualified to do.
An ophthalmologist specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, and in the prevention of eye disease injury.
An optometrist is a health service provider exclusively involved in vision problems. Optometrists are specially educated and trained, but have not attended medical school. Optometrists determine visual acuity and can prescribe contact lenses, eye glasses, and eye exercises.
An optician is a technician who fills prescription for eye glasses, contact lenses, and other specially fabricated optical devices.
Who are my Ear Specialists?
Audiologist and Otolaryngologists are health professionals that specialize in the ear.
Audiologists diagnose and counsel clients about results of diagnostic testing, and provide recommendations and treatments for those with hearing loss and balance problems.
Otolaryngologists (Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialists)
Otolaryngologists are physicians who specialize in diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ears, nose, and throat.
What Should I Do, if I Have Ear or Eye Health Problems?
Many minor ear or eye health issues can easily be treated by your family physician. Your Sobeys Pharmacist may also be able to make recommendations and advise when you should see your physician. Complaints that do not resolve in a few days should not go untreated.
Many medications may have side effects that could potentially affect the eyes or ears. If you experience sudden changes with your vision or hearing and are taking prescription medications, you should contact your Sobeys Pharmacist or physician immediately.
What Types of Minor Complaints Can Be Safely Self Treated?
Dry eyes are one of the most common afflictions of the eye, and can be safely treated with over-the-counter medications. Your PROfile Pharmacist is available to help choose a product that is right for you. Eye drops are available as simple eye washes, or they may contain one or more active ingredients such as antihistamines, decongestants, or mast cell stabilizers.
Antihistamines relieve many symptoms caused by airborne allergens such as itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.
Decongestants clear up redness. They contain vasoconstrictors, which simply make the blood vessels in your eyes smaller, lessening the apparent redness. They treat the symptom, not the cause. In fact, with extended use, the blood vessels can start to become dependent on the vasoconstrictor to stay small. When you discontinue the eye drops, the vessels actually get bigger than they were to begin with. This process is called rebound hyperemia, and the result is that your red eyes actually get worse.
Swimmer's ear is an infection of the outer ear structures. It typically occurs in swimmers, but the since the cause of the infection is water trapped in the ear canal, bathing or showering may also cause this common infection. When water is trapped in the ear canal, bacteria that normally inhabit the skin and ear canal multiply, causing infection and irritation of the ear canal. If the infection progresses, it may involve the outer ear.
The most common symptoms of swimmer's ear are mild to moderate pain and an itchy ear. Other symptoms may include any of the following:
- Sensation that the ear is blocked or full
- Decreased hearing
- Intense pain that may radiate to the neck, face, or side of the head
- The outer ear may appear to be pushed forward or away from the skull
- Swollen lymph nodes
Treatment for the early stages of swimmer's ear includes careful cleaning of the ear canal, and eardrops that inhibit bacterial growth. Mild acid solutions such as boric or acetic acid are effective for early infections.
For more severe infections, if you do not have a perforated ear drum, ear cleaning may be helped by antibiotics. If the ear canal is swollen shut, a sponge or wick may be placed in the ear canal so that the antibiotic drops will be effective. Pain medication may also be prescribed.
For more information on these and other eye and ear issues, talk to your Sobeys Pharmacist.