Why Do Opticians Refer to a Hospital?

Opticians refer to hospitals when an abnormality is noticeable during the eye exam. Those abnormalities can be:

  • A reduced visual acuity in a short time frame
  • Peculiar statements/problems of the customer that can not be treated with contacts or glasses
  • A vastly changed prescription compared to the old glasses/ contacts
  • Anatomical abnormalities
  • Visual abnormalities

Opticians have extensive knowledge about measurements and the fitting of glasses and contacts. In addition to that, the optician can see abnormalities that should be treated by a doctor. This is why an optician refers a customer to hospitals. This just implies the optician has a suspicion about a condition at your eye which should be closely looked at and maybe diagnosed by a doctor.

It is also the obligation of opticians to refer to hospitals when a suspicion comes up or a simple screening leads to a cause of suspicion. In this article, you will learn how some abnormalities have detected that lead to a referral to a hospital.

A Reduced Visual Acuity in a Short Time Frame

When a customer gets an eye test at an optical store made by an optician the needed lens power is measured during the refraction. With subjective refraction, the optician not only gets the data of the needed lens power but also the visual acuity or in some cases fluctuations during the refraction.

When the customer mentioned he needs new glasses because he can not see clearly with the current ones and the optician can not improve visual acuity by changing the lens power another check-up by a doctor is required and depending on how severe the loss in visual acuity is the customer gets referred to a hospital or to a local eye doctor/ ophthalmologist.

Peculiar Statements/Problems of the Customer That Can Not Be Treated With Contacts or Glasses

There are some conditions where every minute counts. For example when the customer says: “flashes are noticeable when the eyes are closed” the situation is very urgent. Because flashes could be a sign of retinal detachment. When this condition is not treated it could lead to permanent damage of one part of the field of view or blindness of that eye.

Another scenario that would lead to a direct recommendation to a hospital is when the optician sees an infection of the cornea. When the cornea is infected with certain amoeba the health of the eye is in danger and such an infection spreads very fast in the eye.

A Vastly Changed Prescription Compared to the Old Glasses/ Contacts

Changes in regards to the prescription are a common thing and experienced wearers of glasses and contacts know after a few years some adjustments could be needed in order to get the best visual acuity. However when the needed change in lens power is abnormally big compared to the old prescription in a short time frame a check-up through a medical doctor oftentimes is recommended.

The eye is influenced by other diseases which are treated by doctors and not opticians. This is why also when the customer does not know he or she has diabetes and the optician has the cause of suspicion that a change in prescription of 4dpt is not normally a referral to a doctor will be communicated to the customer.

Anatomical Abnormalities

There are a lot of anatomical abnormalities that will be noticed by an optician. One of them for example is a bulging of the eye anteriorly out of the orbit (Exophthalmos). When this is observed by the optician and during the eye exam the optician asks for how long do you have the Exophthalmos? And the customer answers “since last week” of course those conditions need to be looked at by a doctor.

I personally as an optician like to get the feedback of a doctor sooner than later and when it is Friday and most local doctors will not be available anymore I send my customers straight to the hospital when an anatomical abnormality is noticed during the eye test.

Visual Abnormalities

Visual abnormalities can have a lot of causes and do not need to come from the eyes only. When a visual problem comes up all of a sudden like double vision or sudden changes in vision it is better to double-check. In some cases, those problems are rooted elsewhere like in a disease or a condition where the nerves of the eye are manipulated.

One example could be increased pressure on the optic discs by a tumor. Or straight lines appearing bent or in a waveform. In a lot of cases when the screening shows a differently shaped perception of straight lines a degenerative disease of the retina could be the cause.

But it also does not have to be the cause. In some cases, this is only the first time the screening was done with a customer. And the customer simply has an anatomical abnormality which also leads to the same perception a person would have with a disease. Of course, the best thing is to just go to the hospital when an optician says you should go and get the advice of a doctor.

What can happen best something gets detected at an early stage. The condition can be treated right away which will be beneficial to your vision in the long run. And when the cause of suspicion came out as “everything is ok” then everybody can be happy because nothing needs to be treated.

I hope you gained some insides about when an optician could refer you to a hospital. I as an optician am just able to talk about technical issues and what I could produce to improve your vision. But when the eye lens, for example, is not performing correctly due to cloudiness I could change the lenses in front of the eye as much as I want but the light will not pass your lens perfectly so it can shine on your retina. Because the problem actually is located in between your glasses and the retina.

The last example is fairly common as our population ages and therefore recommendations for cataract surgeries are a common thing every optician has to deal with. I hope you found the information you were looking for about why an optician refers to a hospital.

I wish you a great day.

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