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Ophthalmologists are doctors that treat conditions in the eyes and surrounding anatomy. These doctors perform many of the same functions that optometrists perform, but ophthalmologists also perform surgical and other invasive treatments.
Currently there about 18,800 ophthalmologists practicing in the United States.
Medical Negligence and Ophthalmologists
Mistakes made in ophthalmology can be devastating and may result in permanent vision loss. Malpractice in ophthalmology often requires patients to go through additional treatments, and may require specialty care for lifelong disabilities. Our medical malpractice team has seen the effects of ophthalmologist malpractice which can result in damaged vision, blindness, or infection.
Malpractice in ophthalmology can be the result of:
Diagnosis error: failure to diagnose, delay in diagnosis, or misdiagnosis
Delaying a proper diagnosis for any reason can result in irreversible vision damage that could have been avoided.
Surgical mistakes can involve tears, dislocation of eye anatomy, and other errors that result in complications for the patient and potentially permanent injury.
Failure to monitor the patient after surgery
Doctors must follow up with their patients after surgery to monitor their recovery and to follow up with continued treatment plans.
Mistakes during surgery or recovery can result in infection of the surgical site and further complications for the patient. In fact, an estimated 1 in 25 patients are affected by hospital infections.
Wrong treatments and medication errors
Performing an incorrect treatment on patients or prescribing incorrect medications delays a cure for the patient and can cause additional harm.
Aspiring ophthalmologists must complete medical school and graduate with either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree. Ophthalmology is a specialty field of medicine that requires doctors to complete extra years of study after medical school.
After graduating medical school, ophthalmologists will complete a one-year internship program in general medicine, and then complete a 1 to 3-year residency in ophthalmology.
Ophthalmologists can choose to complete additional fellowship programs after their residency programs in order to specialize in a specific area of ophthalmology like:
- Cornea and external disease
- Uveitis and ocular immunology
- Ophthalmic pathology
- Pediatric ophthalmology
- Vitreoretinal diseases
Maryland Ophthalmologists Licensing Requirements
Like all doctors in the United States, ophthalmologists must obtain a license to practice medicine in any state. After completing the necessary educational requirements, ophthalmologists must pass a lengthy exam administered by a state medical board. Requirements may vary from state to state.
A medical license allows a doctor to practice any type of medicine but does not demonstrate knowledge in any one area of medicine.
Ophthalmologists gain board certification through the American Board of Ophthalmology or the American Osteopathic Board of Ophthalmology. To gain board certification, doctors must have certain professional requirements, and must pass an extensive written test. Ophthalmologists maintain board certification by taking continued education classes, maintaining professional requirements, and eventually by retaking the qualifying exam.
Where Ophthalmologists Work
Ophthalmologists work in private practices, outpatient clinics, laser eye surgery clinics, emergency eye clinics, and other specialty eye clinics. Ophthalmologists may also visit their patients in hospitals, but they will not work directly out of general hospitals.
How Ophthalmologists Help People
Ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions in the eyes. These doctors can focus on preventing and managing common conditions like cataracts and glaucoma, or they may work in a specialty field of ophthalmology managing unique cases.
Patients usually see optometrists for general eye care. Like optometrists, ophthalmologists can perform eye exams and prescribe medications and eyewear, but ophthalmologists can also perform any necessary treatments on the eyes including surgery that other eye doctors are not trained to perform. Ophthalmologists will work with the patient’s other doctors and communicate conditions they treated that may need continual care and monitoring from other doctors. Ophthalmologists will also discuss conditions in the eyes that may relate to other conditions in the body.
Ophthalmologists will perform a general eye exam on patients and will discuss underlying health problems, chronic conditions, and medical history with the patient. Ophthalmologists will perform diagnostic tests like corneal topography to map the surface of the cornea, fluorescein angiography using photographs of the eye with dye in the blood vessels to diagnose conditions, and fundus photography to take an image of the back of the optic nerve and blood vessels. Ophthalmologists may also take biopsies of eye tissue to test for conditions. These tests can result in diagnostic errors which may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit for breaching the doctor’s duty to properly diagnose the patient.
Common conditions that ophthalmologists treat include:
- Blurry vision, ophthalmologists can perform LASIK and PRK surgery to correct vision
- Glaucoma, pressure behind the eye that causes vision loss. Ophthalmologists perform laser or conventional surgery on patients to help drain fluid from the eye to remove pressure.
- Cataracts, cloudiness in the eye lens. Ophthalmologists can treat this condition with surgery to remove cataracts.
- Conjunctivitis, inflammation of the lining of the eye. Ophthalmologists will prescribe medications for bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Ptosis, drooping eyelid. Ophthalmologists will use small incision surgery to correct the eyelid.
- Diabetic retinopathy, damage to the retina resulting from high blood sugar levels. Ophthalmologists can use multiple techniques to prevent and reduce damage.
The average salary of an ophthalmologist is $325,384.
Maryland Medical Malpractice To Sue Ophthalmologists
If you have suffered an injury while under the care of an ophthalmologist, we can help you. Our law firm is equipped to successfully represent victims of ophthalmologist malpractice. We can help you determine whether you have a case, and advise you about the best course of action to maximize your financial recovery if you do.