How to find a Great Ophthalmologist in Seattle {or elsewhere}

Finding a Great Ophthalmologist in Seattle

The medical specialty that involves eye surgery is ophthalmology, and the specialists who perform this care are called ophthalmologists.  It can be hard to find a great ophthalmologist (eye surgeon) that you really want to work with.  First of all, finding out that you may need eye surgery or medical eye-health management can be stressful.  Once you’ve begun to deal with the related anxiety, it’s time to start your search for a great Seattle Ophthalmologist.  Loads of people don’t give it more than a moment’s thought and go with whomever their primary care physician suggests.

But wait – if you were getting knee or hip surgery, wouldn’t you take the time to do a little research before you select your surgeon?  You should confirm that the doctor (and the surgery center they work out of) is in network with your medical insurance.  Vision insurance won’t apply for surgery or medical eye care.  It might also make sense to look up reviews of the surgeon. You may also want to evaluate reviews for his or her practice and the hospital or surgery center.

It’s also important to realize that very few ophthalmologists are “generalists” that do it all.  Nearly all of them have done extensive training in one particular type of eye surgery.  You don’t want to waste your time by going to a retinal specialist for a cataract consult unless directed to by your primary care eye doctor or others on your care team.  There is certainly some cross-over in areas of expertise.  For example, many patients who need surgery for glaucoma can have that done along with cataract surgery for optimal results.  If you need a lid lift, make sure the surgeon is actually a board-certified ophthalmologist – not just trained in plastic surgery.

Loads of patients mix up three similar terms: optometrist, Optician, and ophthalmologist.  An optician specializes in the sale, fabrication, and repair of glasses.  An optometrist is a primary care eye doctor, and an ophthalmologist is an MD (or doctor of Osteopathic medicine – DO) who specializes in eye surgery.

What’s the best way to find a great Ophthalmologist?

Very much like foot surgeons and mechanics, not all eye doctors are created equal.  One good strategy to help you get great eye care is to establish a working relationship with a primary care eye doctor, known as Optometrists.  Optometrists in Seattle and other cities work closely with the various eye surgeons (ophthalmologists) in the area, and they know who does good work.

There are many different scenarios that lead optometrists to refer to ophthalmology for a surgical or medical consult.  One of the most common reasons for referral is when cataracts start to blur vision to a point that updating glasses does not get things good enough.  Most optometry clinics co-manage cataract surgery with the surgeon.  This means the optometrist will do most of the pre-operative testing and typically take over the post-op care a few days after surgery.

Building a relationship with your local optometrist can lead to better care later when you do need a surgical consult with an ophthalmologist.  You can trust that the optometrist will try to refer you to the best eye surgeons in town. It’s in their best interest to get you good care.  If the optometrist you are working with does not seem to know much about the local surgeons, that should be a red flag.  This lack of knowledge would indicate that they don’t know the local area well, are filling in for the regular doctor, or do not manage medical cases often.

It is very important to find the best ophthalmologist so you can get the right medical care you need. Your eye health is crucial and if you do not connect with the right doctor, you may be putting your eye health in jeopardy. When looking for a doctor make sure that they have the necessary qualifications and enough experience. This will ensure that they will address your medical concerns to the best of their abilities.

Online resources can help you find a good ophthalmologist in Seattle.


One good source is US News and World Report’s rankings of doctors in the USA.  They do show ratings and specify the surgeon’s sub-specialties (retina, etc.) which is helpful.  Many of the top-rated surgeons don’t have a single review though, so I’m unsure how reliable their ranking system is.


Seattle Met magazine releases their “Top Doctor” ratings annually and their methodology is sound.  Only physicians in Seattle metropolitan area can vote.  This means that the Seattle Magazine rankings reflect a doctor’s reputation in the local medical community


Seattle Magazine also released a list in 2021.    Newsweek also published its list of the top 100 eye doctors in the USA in 2021. Only one Seattle Ophthalmologist made their list, so it’s not really that helpful as a reference.

WebMD’s Doctor Finder function can also be helpful.  Doctors can create or claim their profiles for free, and consumers (patients) can rate them in the healthcare space.  An ophthalmologist who is highly rated on these two websites is almost certainly one of the best in town.