What is the difference between an Optometrist and Ophthalmologist?
An Optometrist is a health care professional who is licensed to provide primary eye care services and an Ophthalmologist is an M.D. or a medical doctor who is specializes in eye and vision care.
More detailed explanations follow.
An Optometrist is a health care professional who is licensed to provide primary eye care services.
Examples of treatments are:
- Examine and diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal diseases and, in certain states in the U.S., how to treat them
- Diagnose related systemic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that may affect the eyes
- Examine, diagnose and treat visual conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and Presbyopia
- Prescribe glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation and medications
- Perform minor surgical procedures such as the removal of foreign bodies
An Optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry or O.D.. This is not to be confused with a Doctor of Medicine, which is an M.D.. An Optometrist must complete a pre-professional undergraduate college education and an additional 4 years of professional education in a College of Optometry. Some Optometrists also do a residency.
An Ophthalmologist is an M.D. or a medical doctor who is specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are educated and trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to the most difficult and delicate eye surgeries.
Ophthalmologists must complete 4 years of medical school, one year of rotating internships, and then a minimum of three years in residency in Ophthalmology. A residency in Ophthalmology concentrates and focuses on all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Ophthalmologists may also spend an additional year or two in residency to further specialize in a specific area such as the: cornea and external disease, glaucoma, Neuro-Ophthalmology, Ophthalmic Pathology, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery, Pediatric Ophthalmology, or Vitreoretinal diseases.
Both an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist can prescribe vision therapy.
Under Articles, also see: