What are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians?

What are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians?

Health and Fitness June 23, 2014

Local optometrists

Have you ever needed to find an eye doctor, but you’re unsure which kind you need to see? There are two kinds of eye doctors you could visit: optometrists and ophthalmologists. However, it’s important to know the differences between these two types of eye doctors and opticians, whom you may also encounter, and how they differentiate from opticians, too. For reference, here is a quick breakdown between these professionals.

These eye doctors are actually licensed M.D.s, meaning that they are able to provide medical and osteopathic care. They have completed a Bachelor’s degree and eight additional years of medical training — more so than optometrists. Because they are medical doctors, ophthalmologists are able to diagnose and treat eye conditions; they can write prescriptions for medications in addition to the prescriptions used for corrective lenses. They are also able to perform eye exams and certain types of eye surgeries. Some eye M.D.s may also have a specialty or subspecialty in a particular area of eye care, such as being a pediatric eye doctor. An ophthalmologist may be involved in research pertaining to the causes or cures for vision disorders and diseases.

Optometrists are also considered eye doctors, but they have received a doctorate in optometry in four years after completing a Bachelor’s degree; therefore, they are not considered medical doctors. Optometrists can perform eye exams and write prescriptions for contact lenses and eye glasses; however, they cannot treat most eye conditions or illnesses or perform surgery. However, they can identify eye conditions or abnormalities and sometimes prescribe medication for them.

In addition to these two types of eye doctors, you may also encounter an optician during your eye appointments. Opticians are technicians who design, verify, and fit corrective lenses based on an eye doctor’s prescription; they are not involved in testing vision, writing prescriptions, or providing diagnosis and treatment.

Have more questions about what you can expect when you visit an eye doctor? Be sure to let us know in the comments. You can also search local optometrists and ophthalmologists in order to receive more information. See more.