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    Finding Dr. Right


    These eye professionals attend four years of postcollege optometry school that's specifically geared toward learning how to measure vision and prescribe glasses or contacts. But if it's permanent vision correction by laser surgery you want, ask your optometrist to refer you to an ophthalmologist, and request one who specializes in corneal and refractive surgery. These medical doctors are the only "eye doctors" who can perform surgery on the eyes, including LASIK.

    Your ideal optometrist is: A graduate of an accredited optometry school (look for the initials "O.D.," which stand for Doctor of Optometry, after his name), and state certified and licensed, credentials you can confirm with your state optometric association by logging on to

    Your health complaint: An itchy rash
    Your options: General practitioner or dermatologist
    Your best bet: Start with your primary care physician

    He should be able to diagnose and treat most common rashes. But if your rash persists or recurs, or if there is any blistering or sign of infection (yellow crusting or fever), see a dermatologist, advises dermatologist Bruce P. Robinson, M.D., an assistant clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. These medical doctors diagnose and treat rashes and other skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer. If you or your dermatologist suspect your rash is triggered by something you're eating, it may be wise to consult an allergist. Although both dermatologists and allergists can perform patch tests to identify the source of a contact skin allergy (top culprits are jewelry metals and fragrances), an allergist will run blood and skin tests to determine if your itch is diet-related.

    Your ideal dermatologist is: Board certified and has experience treating your condition (some skin docs are extremely specialized). To find one by location and expertise, try the American Academy of Dermatology's "Find a Dermatologist" tool at

    Your health complaint: High cholesterol, diabetes, weight loss...anything diet-related
    Your options: Nutritionist or dietitian
    Your best bet: Dietitian

    "Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist—the title is completely unregulated," warns Ruth Frechman, R.D., a registered dietitian in Burbank, CA, and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. That means the "nutritionist" working at your gym may be anyone from a highly qualified expert to an amateur with no formal training or education whatsoever. The title "registered dietitian" (R.D.), on the other hand, is reserved for people who have completed a four-year degree in nutrition, plus 900 supervised clinical hours, and have passed a national exam, qualifying them to help manage medical conditions through diet. Some states require that R.D.'s also be licensed.

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