Everything you Need to Know About Optometrist and Ophthalmologist
While both optometrists and ophthalmologists are trained eye doctors, their roles in protecting your eye health are very different. Rosin Eyecare wants to make sure you have the knowledge you need when walking into your eye appointments, and a key part of that knowledge is knowing which type of eye doctor you should see, depending on your individual concerns and questions.
Here’s the short answer: ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in their levels of education and the specific conditions that they can diagnose and treat. Ophthalmologists receive a full medical degree, qualifying them to practice medicine and perform surgery. Optometrists receive training in medicine specific to patients’ eye health and are unable to practice as a physician.
Both doctors can diagnose common and uncommon symptoms related to eye health. Here’s a more detailed look at the differences between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist:
Qualifications and Schooling
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists acquire specialized medical training in the eye care field, but their education requirements differ in terms of length and focus. They also must both take part in continuing education in order to keep their licenses renewed on a regular basis.
- Optometrists complete training as Doctor of Optometry (OD).
- After receiving an undergraduate degree, they spend 4 years in optometry school, including clinical work in refraction, optics, glasses and contact lenses.
- Optometry school also includes training in binocular function, the study of how two eyes function together in the body.
- An Ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).
- After receiving an undergraduate degree, they complete 4 years of medical school and then 4 years of hospital training through a residency before receiving their medical license.
- Ophthalmologists can also extend their residency if they wish to develop an optional specialty in their field.
Eye Diseases and Specialties
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat a variety of eye conditions as well as prescribe medications to treat eye disorders. Some of the eye diseases and disorders diagnosed by both types of doctors include:
- Refractive vision disorders like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Optometrists specialize in measuring refraction and prescribing contact lenses and eyeglasses.
- They can measure a patient’s nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Their binocular function training helps them to provide the optimal vision correction.
- Ophthalmologists specialize in eye surgeries to treat eye diseases, such as LASIK, cataract surgery, and more.
- They are thoroughly trained in diagnosing and treating all eye diseases and can prescribe medication before and after surgery
There is also a third type of eye care professional: an optician. Opticians are technical practitioners who specialize designing fitting, and dispensing corrective lenses based on their optometrist’s diagnosis.
Do I Need an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists can perform your annual eye exam and screenings for various eye conditions.
If you are looking for vision correction services, optometrists are a great choice for care since their specialty is in prescription contact lenses and glasses. They can educate you on the latest lens options for contacts and glasses and give you an accurate contact lens fitting.
If you need any type of eye surgery, then you need to seek out an ophthalmologist, as they are the only ones qualified to perform surgeries. Ophthalmologists are also a great choice if you have a specific eye disease and need ongoing care, as they are professionals in eye pathologies.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact an eye care specialist today:
- Eye floaters, strings or specks in your vision
- Double vision
- Distorted vision
- Headaches from light
- Bulging in one or both eyes
- Blurry vision
- Eye dryness or irritation
- Eye injury
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Any other type of abnormality involving one or both eyes
It’s important for eye care providers to have both types of eye doctors available so that they can offer you comprehensive eye care services. At Rosin Eyecare, our professional team of eye doctors includes both optometrists and ophthalmologists, so that no matter your eye issue, we have an expert on site who can help you find the care you need. Learn more about selecting your eye doctor by reading our other blog on the 5 Things to Look for When Choosing a Good Eye Doctor!