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What's the difference between an ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician?

By Anonymous July 16, 2014 - 9:10pm
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I'm unsure which type of eye doctor I need to see. Ophthalmologist, Optometrist or Optician?

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Hello Anonymous,

An ophthalmologist is medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research into the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems.

An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses. Ophthalmologists complete:
• four years of college
• four years of medical school
• one year of internship
• three years, at least, of residency (hospital-based training) in the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders.

Often, an ophthalmologist will enroll in a fellowship program to sub specialize in a specific area of eye care, such as pediatric ophthalmology. This involves one to two years of additional training.

An optometrist receives a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree and is licensed to practice optometry, not medicine. The practice of optometry traditionally involves examining the eye for the purpose of prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, screening vision to detect certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.

An optician is trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual corrections. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.

Which type of vision healthcare provider you choose depends on your needs.
I hope that I have provided you with information to make that choice.


July 21, 2014 - 4:44pm
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