What is the Difference between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist?
You must have visited your eye care doctor many times. Do you know whether you visited an
optometrist or an ophthalmologist? This the most confusing thing for many people to understand, what
is the difference between optometrist and ophthalmologist? You might find it very tricky to decide,
whom you should visit when you have some vision problem or any other eye disease.
Once you are clear about the difference between both, it will be very easy for you to decide whom you
should visit for different eye health problems. There are some similarities and overlapping features
between optometrist and ophthalmologist, but there are many remarkable differences are also there
between both of them.
Here is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist.
Traditionally Optometrists are known as O.D.s and used to be trained to diagnose and treat vision
problems such as farsightedness, astigmatism and nearsightedness, and prescribe contact lenses and
eyeglass. A large part of their job is to execute “refractions”.
In the past 20 years, optometry training has turned into more medically-oriented than in the past, and
now optometrists obtain thorough and comprehensive training in optics and refractions. Even though
optometrists are not M.D.s, still many optometrists can recommend particular medications, and
diagnose and treat a broad-range of medical conditions as well that affect the eye such as glaucoma,
cataracts, retinal disease and some other eye conditions.
Education and Training of an Optometrist
Maximum optometrists undergo four years undergraduate training and then four years post graduate
doctoral training. Their course includes pharmacology, ocular disease identification and treatment,
vision treatment, optics, anatomy and physiology. It also includes numerous hours of practical training.
In order to get their license to practice all the optometrists have to pass a series of nationally-
administered exams. After passing their course they find ophthalmology jobs available according to
their practice area only in order to gain experience.
Services Offered by an Optometrist
Generally optometrists offer following services:
Common vision services like eye diagnosis and treatment, treatment of strabismus and
Eye disease anticipation and prevention
Diagnosis and general treatment of different eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic
retinopathy and red eye problem.
Prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses
Vision healing services like eye exercise and low vision assistance
Pre and post surgery care for patients who have undergone eye surgery.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) specialized in the eye treatment. Though, now there is
not much difference between training of optometrists and ophthalmologists, still there are some
noticeable differences between them.
Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye surgery but optometrists’ course does not include this. The
surgery training includes Lasik eye correction, removal of cataracts, surgery related to eye pain, burns
and detachment of retina.
Ophthalmologists training include specialized training for diagnoses and treatment of more complex
medical eye conditions.
Ophthalmologists are permitted to prescribe a broader-range of prescription drugs than optometrists
because of their specialization and as an M.D.
Education and Training of an Ophthalmologist
Ophthalmologists get four or even more years of undergraduate education then four years of medical
education and at last one year of internship to acquire their doctorate degree. Once they are licensed
physicians, they go through a residency of at least three, with medical and surgical training in eye care.
Once completed their training they start practicing as an ophthalmologist and find ophthalmology jobs
available to carry on their practice.
Services Offered by an Ophthalmologist
All the ophthalmologists may not opt for vision correction practice as their primary services. As
performing surgery is more beneficial than refractions, so they prefer it more. Though they can offer
general vision services, but they will be ready to leave these services for optometrists to perform eye
Whom should you see when you have eye problem- optometrist or ophthalmologist?
Optometrists are the best option for day-to-day eye care needs. You can easily get appointment with
the optometrists as compare to ophthalmologists. When you need eyeglasses, optometrist will be the
best choice, because they have more eyeglass frame options.
Because of the improved training now optometrists are trained to find many eye diseases and problems
that earlier only ophthalmologist were trained to spot. If optometrist finds some serious problem they
will themselves refer you to an ophthalmologist for detailed treatment.
About the author:
Eyebuzz.net is a leading ophthalmology job search portal offering best ophthalmology jobs. It makes job
search very easy and help ophthalmologists find ophthalmology jobs available on eybuzz.net.