Just like other specialties in the medical field, terms in the eye care industry can sound similar. What’s the difference between an optician, optometrist, and an ophthalmologist?
Each professional handles different things, so you need to make sure you choose the right eye doctor for your situation. The difference lies in the amount of training and expertise they may have.
An optician is trained to design and make sure that eyeglass lenses fit correctly. They also handle frames, contact lenses, and other eyesight-correcting devices. An optometrist or ophthalmologist will create a prescription for a patient that the optician can use, but they don’t perform vision tests or write prescriptions. Opticians are not able to diagnose or treat eye diseases and ailments.
The next step in vision care is an optometrist. These healthcare professionals provide primary vision care. This care includes sight testing and correction, along with the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision issues. An optometrist has a Doctorate of Optometry degree but is not a medical doctor. The degree takes four years of optometry school, then three years or more of college. After graduating, they are licensed to practice optometry. They can provide eye exams, vision tests, write prescriptions for corrective lenses, detect some eye and vision problems, and prescribe medication for some eye diseases.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. The training of a medical doctor involves completing college along with a minimum of eight years of additional medical training. Upon graduation, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. They can diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and prescribe and fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision correcting instruments. Additionally, ophthalmologists may also perform scientific research involving eye diseases and vision disorders.
Ophthalmologists may also specialize in specific eye matters. An ophthalmologist that pursues this line of training is called a subspecialist. This schooling may take one to two years of extra training. Some subspecialties include areas such as corneas, glaucoma, neurology, pediatrics, and plastic surgery among other topics.
Make the Right Choice for Your Eye Care
It’s easy to take your vision for granted until something bad happens. Many things can occur that can negatively impact your eye health, some of them may not even seem to be related to your eyes. High blood pressure, diabetes, and other issues can affect your vision. Genetic conditions passed on from parents and grandparents can also cause you to have eye problems. Vision problems can be difficult to detect and you may not even notice any changes in your eyesight.
By the time you reach the age of 40, you should have a complete medical eye exam performed by an ophthalmologist. Make sure to complete any follow-up appointments that the doctor recommends. Keeping ahead of eye problems can prevent you from bigger issues later.
Contact Dr. Myers
If you need an eye exam and are either nervous or not sure where to begin, call the friendly staff at the Dr. Myers Eye Care Center. You’ll be treated with respect and care throughout the process. We look forward to helping you keep your vision healthy.