Ophthalmology

Eye Doctor Serving Mobile, Alabama and the nearby Gulf Coast Area

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist vs. Optician

A young man having his eyes examined by the optometristYou care about your eye health and your vision. How do you make sure you’re “seeing” the right doctor for these things? What’s the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist and optician? Let’s take a closer look:

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A young man having his eyes examined by the optometristYou care about your eye health and your vision. How do you make sure you’re “seeing” the right doctor for these things? What’s the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist and optician? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Ophthalmologists are doctors who specialize in eye surgery, and the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. Their area of expertise includes cataracts, poor vision, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and many other serious problems that can rob you of your vision. They must complete at least another 8 years of specialty medical training after they earn an undergraduate degree. They can provide vision prescriptions for glasses and contacts if they need to.
  • Optometrists are the Doctors of Optometry (OD) that prescribe glasses and contact lenses. They perform your annual or bi-annual eye exam. After undergraduate school, optometrists have completed several years of training at an optometry school.
  • Opticians are not doctors but they make sure your glasses and contacts are properly fitted. They can help you purchase the right pair of glasses, and ensure they fit on your face as perfectly as possible. They also make adjustments to glasses if you are unhappy with the fit after wearing them for a while. Opticians must have a license and they must have completed the certification required by the American Board of Opticianry.

They all have some things in common. They have to complete a certain number of continuing education hours in order to maintain a license to practice. Ophthalmologists have the most training and education, and are qualified to treat serious eye health problems and diseases. You should see an ophthalmologist like Dr. Walton if you think you may have an eye disease or if you want surgery to improve your vision.

Schedule a Consultation to Learn More About Our Ophthalmologist

Dr. Chris Walton is an experienced ophthalmologist who has been providing eye care, LASIK, cataract surgery and other ophthalmological services to people in the Gulf Coast area for many years. If you have a question about your eyes or your vision, please don’t hesitate to call us at 251-341-3385. We’re happy to answer your questions and let you know whether Dr. Walton’s services include your area of concern.

Ophthalmology Tips for the Year Ahead

The new year is almost here! And, fittingly for our practice, the start of 2020 is an ideal time to look at the steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear all year long.

Below are some tips to up your eye care in the new year. For personalized recommendations based on a thorough eye exam, contact Dr. Christopher J. Walton today.

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The new year is almost here! And, fittingly for our practice, the start of 2020 is an ideal time to look at the steps you can take to keep your eyes healthy and your vision clear all year long.

Below are some tips to up your eye care in the new year. For personalized recommendations based on a thorough eye exam, contact Dr. Christopher J. Walton today.

1. Quit Smoking

man breaking cigarette in two - stop smoking for healthier eyesOne of the most common New Year's resolutions is also one of the best things you can do for the health of your eyes and your whole body. Smoking increases your risk for a host of eye disorders; some are simply irritating, while others pose a significant threat to your vision:

  • Dry eye condition
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy (in patients who have diabetes)
  • Macular degeneration (also known as AMD, or age-related macular degeneration)

Quitting smoking is not easy. However, the benefits are immense!

2. Stay in Shape

On the opposite side of the same coin, healthy choices benefit the eyes as well as your overall well-being. Foods rich in omega-3s (including salmon, soybeans, walnuts, and more), antioxidants (leafy greens, berries, beans, etc.), and vitamins (especially A and C) deliver essential nutrients to the eyes that maintain healthy function.

A regular fitness regimen is also good for the eyes. Exercise keeps blood flowing throughout your body, delivering oxygen to blood vessels in the eyes. The flow of healthy, oxygenating blood makes you less likely to develop cataracts and other conditions that threaten your vision.

3. Reduce Screen Time

Digital eye strain is a growing problem in our increasingly device-centered personal and professional lives. Electronic devices like computers and smartphones emit blue light. The blue light is hard on the eyes; exposure for long periods of time can result in eyestrain, headaches, and other unpleasant effects.

Stepping away from screens is good for the eyes, as well as overall physical and emotional health. If spend a lot of time each day on your phone or the computer, be sure to take breaks and gives your eyes a chance to rest away from any screens.

4. Protect Your Eyes

woman wearing safety glassesMost patients know about the importance of wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays. However, eye protection comes in many different forms for a variety of situations. Depending on your lifestyle, you may consider these other types of vision protection:

  • Protective eyewear for the home – If you're a DIY enthusiast, be cautious when working with tools and the sparks and debris they can produce; most accidents involving eye injuries happen at home, so investing in safety glasses, goggles, or other gear is smart when working inside or outside of your home
  • Sport safety goggles – Injury to the eye is possible in many different athletic events; proper eye protection reduces the risk of cornea damage and other injury
  • Swim goggles – From the ocean to swimming pools, a variety of different bacteria and other organisms live in the water; these organisms may harm your eyes, so it's best to wear goggles when swimming to keep them out

You can find protective eye gear at many stores, but it may be worth consulting your ophthalmologist for insights on the best options. Just like eyeglasses, safety equipment works best if it closely fits your face shape and fully covers the eyes and surrounding areas.

5. Schedule Your Annual Eye Exam

Getting an eye exam every year is the best line of defense against refractive errors that make it difficult to see, as well as progressive conditions that impact your sight. Eye exams can help detect:

  • Myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism – our ophthalmologist can assess the impact of these refractive errors and prescribe corrective lenses
  • Changes in your vision prescription – your eyes change and develop over time, perhaps necessitating updates to your glasses or contacts so they can provide you the best correction
  • Glaucoma – the infamous "poof" of air to the eye is a key diagnostic test for this vision-threatening condition; glaucoma may present with no symptoms, which makes monitoring intraocular press a cornerstone of your annual eye exam
  • Retinal disease – Dilating your pupils gives our ophthalmologist a wider view of the retina and optic nerve; this enhanced view enables Dr. Walton to check for injury or illness of the retina

Board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Walton has extensive experience helping patients correct their vision, maintain healthy eyes, and – if needed – manage eye conditions. To find out how he can help you, too, please call 251-341-3385 to schedule your initial consultation. Dr. Walton welcomes patients throughout the Gulf Coast areas to our office in Mobile, Alabama.

Halloween and Decorative Contact Lens Safety

Happy Halloween man in a witch hat with glasses and a leather jacket holding orange and black balloonsEven cosmetic contact lenses must be made according to your prescription. These contact lenses, like any other, must fit your eyes correctly, otherwise they may cause serious injury.

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Happy Halloween man in a witch hat with glasses and a leather jacket holding orange and black balloonsEven cosmetic contact lenses must be made according to your prescription. These contact lenses, like any other, must fit your eyes correctly, otherwise they may cause serious injury. With Halloween upon us, please hear our advice: skip the decorative lenses this year, unless they were made by a reputable business using your prescription.

Beware Decorative Contact Lenses!

While cat eyes or red lenses may seem fun and festive, no costume is worth injuring your eyes.  Your vision can be damaged by non-prescription contact lenses. A poor fit may lead to:

  • Corneal scratches
  • Corneal sores
  • Infection
  • Pink eye
  • Scarring
  • Blindness (in extreme cases)

According to the FTC, it is illegal for anyone to sell you contact lenses without getting a copy of your prescription or calling your eye doctor to verify it.

Considering over-the-counter contacts for your 2019 costume? We urge you not to do it! Schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist like Dr. Chris Walton if you want lenses for a costume or for other fashion-oriented reasons. Since there is not enough time for that appointment for Halloween 2019, you'll need to wait until next year.

What to Look Out for

Don't purchase decorative eye lenses from costume stores. Don't ever purchase lenses that come pre-made, packaged and sold as one-size-fits-all. Don't buy from any seller that doesn't require your prescription. Contact lenses must be made from FDA-approved materials. While it may seem that there are endless options once you do a quick Google search for Halloween lenses, the fact is that most of these are not good options at all. If you ever buy this type of fashionable or colored lens, it must be from a legitimate company requiring your vision prescription.

Closeup of a woman's eyes with green cat-style Halloween lenses

Proper Contact Lens Wear and Care

Care and cleanliness is important when it comes to all contact lenses. Proper care helps you avoid infection and other eye health problems. While you may throw out your prescription decorative lenses, your normal lenses require the following measures:

  • Wash your hands before inserting and removing contact lenses
  • Don't ever share contact lenses with another person
  • Use lens solution to clean your contacts – never water or other liquid
  • Don't store the contacts in water
  • Store in new solution at least every 7 days
  • Don't mix new solution with old
  • Don't sleep in your contact lenses unless instructed to do so by your eye doctor
  • Replace your lenses as instructed by your doctor
  • Go to your regularly scheduled eye exams

If you experience eye pain, swelling, blurred vision or other eye symptoms that concern you, call Dr. Walton. Addressing the issue as soon as possible will get you back on the road to optimal eye health.

Schedule Your Next Vision Consultation with Dr. Walton

If you've been considering ditching your contact lenses for good, Dr. Chris Walton is an experienced Mobile, AL, LASIK surgeon who can help you decide if the procedure is right for you. He's also available to answer any other questions you have about eye care and vision health, and he offers a full range of optical services. To reach us, please call 251-341-3385.

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