Why Optometrists Aren't Called Doctors

Many people mistakenly believe that optometrists and ophthalmologists have the same responsibilities. However, optometrists have a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school and three or more years of college. In Canada, there is a debate about whether optometrists should be referred to as doctors. The reason for this is that optometrists are not trained in medical or surgical fundamentals or methods.

Optometrists are health professionals who specialize in eye disorders and provide primary eye care. This includes vision tests and corrections, diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. They are also licensed to practice optometry, which involves performing eye exams and tests, prescribing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases. In a hospital setting, the term 'doctor' should be reserved for medical doctors.

In an optometry clinic, however, it is appropriate to refer to optometrists as doctors. In academia, anyone with a doctorate has the title of doctor. But if someone in academia asks a non-graduate to call them a doctor, it is considered pretentious.Many people assume that the primary role of an optometrist is to prescribe glasses or contact lenses. However, some optometrists receive additional clinical training or complete a specialty fellowship after optometry school.

This allows them to diagnose and treat more complex eye conditions.The Board has stated that an acceptable way to use the doctoral degree is “Dr. Isobel Jones (Optometrist).” It is important to note that when referring to themselves outside of their workplace, optometrists should not call themselves doctors. Ophthalmologists differentiate themselves from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all play an important role in providing eye care to consumers.It can be frustrating when people who have graduated from programs such as naturopathy, optometry, pharmacy, and physical therapy call themselves doctors every time they have the opportunity.

Personally, I find it comical but it is also unfortunate that some people think I feel this way because I am a pharmacist and I am jealous.

Gregor Potzl
Gregor Potzl

Avid beer practitioner. Devoted travel fanatic. Extreme burrito aficionado. Unapologetic baconaholic. Professional internet fan.

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