Optometrists and ophthalmologists often work together to care for you. When a person makes an appointment to see an ophthalmologist, they may consult with an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or optician. Each type of eye professional will have different levels of training and experience and will be able to provide different services. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who receives advanced training in eye care and is licensed to practice medicine and surgery.
They are second-level eye care providers who usually work with their optometrist. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a physician who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery.
An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgeries, and prescribes and places glasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. An ophthalmologist is qualified to provide total eye care, that is, eye services, eye exams, medical and surgical eye care, and diagnosis and treatment of visual diseases and complications that are caused by other conditions, such as diabetes. Optometrists do not perform surgery and are not trained to care for and manage all eye diseases and disorders. They receive a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by at least three years of college.
They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and eye tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases. Keep in mind that these professionals can work together and that a team approach may be the best option for eye care. The main difference between the two is that an ophthalmologist graduates from medical school and can perform surgeries and other complicated procedures for eye abnormalities, while an optometrist graduates from optometry school and performs mostly non-surgical eye care services. Plastic surgeons who specialize in ophthalmology can repair damage to the eyelids, bones, or other structures around the eye and tear drainage system.
When you talk about the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist, it's almost like comparing your family doctor to a cardiologist. An ophthalmologist has completed four years of pre-university medical education, four years in medical school, one year of internship, and three or more years of specialized medical and surgical training in eye care. Optometrists are eye professionals who provide primary eye care that ranges from vision tests and corrections to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. These vision professionals focus on optimizing visual acuity and helping you manage and optimize your vision as it changes throughout your life.
Like ophthalmologists, optometrists are trained to examine the internal and external structure of the eyes for diseases such as glaucoma, retinal diseases, and cataracts. As a qualified specialist, an ophthalmologist is licensed by a state regulatory board to diagnose, treat, and manage conditions affecting the eyes and visual system. This involves continuing your education and training in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care.