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The sky is clear and blue. The field that stretches before you is filled with tall grasses in shades of green and brown and wildflowers in vibrant yellows and soft purples. The sun is bright. Its light shimmers across the smooth surface of the distant pond. The image you see before you is breathtaking. It is clear and sharp.

Contrast this with a world filled with blurred images. Colors blend together in the distance and are no longer sharply in focus. Or worse, darkness encroaches on the scene at hand. Images, once sharp, are softly focused and blurred. Our eyes are a rich source of information. Unfortunately, we often take our eyesight for granted. Good vision care is the key to a lifetime of good eyesight.

Annual eye exams are an important part of caring for vision and maintaining good health. During an annual eye exam, a professionally trained and educated eye care professional seeks to identify and correct vision problems and deficiencies, using complicated tools and equipment to identify life-altering conditions before they progress beyond the point of “no return.”

Choosing an eye care professional can be difficult. First, you must know what type of service you need. Services range from simple eye exams to correct vision deficiencies, to more complex treatments and surgeries to correct or repair damage from injuries or degenerative diseases. Other considerations include cost, convenience of location, and the availability of vision care insurance benefits.

An eye exam can be performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, who provides his or her patient with a prescription for corrective lenses – glasses or contact lenses – to correct these deficiencies. Glasses or contact lenses are then dispensed by an optician or optical technician. An office that dispenses glasses or contact lenses may also sell high quality sunglasses and other protective eyewear, such as industrial safety and athletic glasses.

Many optometrists and ophthalmologists offer "one stop" services and are conveniently located near healthcare centers, shopping centers, and in downtowns and neighborhoods. They provide a wide range of payment options and often accept a variety of insurance plans.

More complex surgeries and corrective treatments are only performed by ophthalmologists, who are medical doctors trained and educated in eye and vision care, as well as corrective and surgical techniques. Surgical treatments include restorative procedures for cataracts and glaucoma, as well as refractive procedures such as Lasik, or laser surgery, Radial Keratotomy (R.K.), and Hexagonal Keratotomy (H.K.) to correct near- and far-sighted conditions. Ophthalmologists are board certified and found in many healthcare settings.

Michigan has several excellent educational institutions that train and educate eye care professionals, providing Detroit and Southeast Michigan with many high quality vision care centers. Remember, the best way to protect your eyesight and vision health is with an annual eye exam by a qualified professional eye care provider.

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