Patient Education

Eye Exam Second Opinions

When it comes to eye exams, patients may need to get a second opinion in order to get a correct and thorough diagnosis and treatment plan. There are two reasons why patients sometimes go to another eye doctor for a second opinion; one is the broad range of issues relating to the eyes and the other doctor’s competence.

Like other areas related to health, there can be many problems that can develop with the eyes and vision. With so many eye conditions and diseases that can have similar symptoms, proper diagnosis may be hard, even for the most experienced optometrist or ophthalmologist. A patient may be diagnosed for a simple vision change when they actually have cataracts or another condition. Second opinions are not needed all the time, as many are eye problems are diagnosed correctly, but for serious eye conditions and diseases, a second exam from another eye doctor does not hurt. An example is minor eye pain, which might be diagnosed as normal, and prescribed medication for treatment which could be a correct analysis, but it could also be a sign of a major condition like retinal detachment, which could lead to loss of vision if not detected and treated early.

The other reason for a second opinion for eye problems is the competence of the optometrist or ophthalmologist, keeping in mind that not all eye doctors are equal in skill, knowledge and experience. Like other jobs, some eye doctors are just more skilled by gaining experience through training and hard work. Not all your ‘A’ students will become the top eye doctors, but it does show work ethic and knowledge, which is often transferred to a real world setting. Some optometrists take up a residency to further their training, and ophthalmologists pick residencies to increase their experience in a certain area. This extra training can provide knowledge that other eye professionals will not have.

For example, a patient who is a child visiting a optometrist with 4 years of experience may receive proper diagnosis, but the patient might be in better hands with an optometrist who had training in pediatric optometry through residency or other method. This extra training gives them more experience and knowledge of eye conditions that affect children, which is definitely a great tool for future diagnosis. For patients who feel that their eye doctor did not provide a sufficient exam, a second exam from another eye professional could be beneficial.

Second Eye Exam Examples

Here are two real cases of patients who required second exams. The cases can be read through the links but will be summarized.

The first is a case with a three year old boy who displayed signs of less than normal visual acuity, and who was uncooperative for two eye exams with an optometrist. The optometrist was unable to fully examine the boy, but diagnosed the problem as high myopia and astigmatism. The boy was later diagnosed by a pediatric ophthalmologist with nuclear cataracts. The second opinion allowed an uncooperative boy to get properly diagnosed by an eye doctor experienced with handling this type of situation, allowing the doctor to perform a complete examination.

The second case involves a patient who was not diagnosed properly by an optometrist. The patient visited another optometrist for a second opinion, and was diagnosed with a retinal detachment which is a serious condition. The second opinion resulted in detection of a serious condition and a malpractice lawsuit.

Although the majority of eye doctors are highly competent, because there are so many problems that can affect the eyes, they can make errors in judgment. The majority of patients do not need a second opinion, but there are cases where it is necessary, as shown by these cases.


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