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April 7, 2015

What is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?

When we speak of eye doctors, it can often be confusing whether to call them ophthalmologists or optometrists. In short, ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs); optometrists, on the other hand, are not MDs but are still considered eye doctors upon receipt of a Doctorate of Optometry (OD).

As a medical doctor, an ophthalmologist can specialize in all areas of eye care including the diagnosis of ocular diseases and surgery. It takes at least eight years of medical training to get licensed by a state regulatory board to practice medicine and surgery, which is why an ophthalmologist can treat all eye diseases as well as prescribe eyeglasses and contacts. Many ophthalmologists obtain additional training in subspecialties like glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, neurology and surgery such as LASIK. Also, it’s not uncommon for ophthalmologists conduct scientific research on the causes and cures for eye disorders.

An optometrist is also an independent health care provider who can examine, diagnose and treat disorders of the visual system; however, the Doctor of Optometry Degree only permits the practice of optometry, not general medicine. Such doctors can diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders as well as nearsightedness, farsightedness and presbyopia. While an optometrist can prescribe corrective lenses and medications as well as perform eye exams, an optometrist isn’t trained to perform surgery to treat those conditions.

There are also opticians, trained to adjust and fit optical produces like eyeglasses and contacts. Unlike optometrists and ophthalmologists, opticians, however, cannot write prescriptions or diagnose eye diseases.

Given the extensive training of ophthalmologists, it’s important to visit one for a complete eye exam by age 40. The following symptoms are additional reason to see an ophthalmologist: double vision, halos, eyelid abnormalities, eye pain or injury, loss of peripheral vision, unusual red eye, excess tearing and any unusually distorted vision.

For an exam with an ophthalmologist, please call us at 877-871-1684.

 

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