An eye doctor is a practitioner who specializes in the examination, treatment, and care of the eyes. There are three main types of eye care practitioners. Ophthalmologists, Optometrists and Opticians. Each type of eye care practitioner will have different levels of training and expertise and be able to provide different services. It is very important to consult the appropriate eye care professional to get the care you need for your specific eye or vision problems. An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor that specializes in both medical and surgical matters of the eyes and visual system, as well as the prevention of eye disease and injury. These eye doctors may prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, treat eye diseases with drugs, conduct laser procedures, and complex eye surgery. An ophthalmologist can offer the same medical services as an optometrist, including prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Ophthalmologists offer complete eye care services which means they can diagnose and treat all eye conditions.
Optometrists are eye care practitioners that provide primary vision care. Their services range from eyesight testing and correction to diagnosing, treating, and managing changes in vision. Optometrists are professionally licensed to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system. The practice of optometry involves prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses, diagnose vision problems, and eye diseases, prescribe oral and topical medications to treat eye diseases, perform minor in-office procedures, provide treatment before and after surgery, and provide low-vision aids and vision therapy.
Opticians are the third common profession in the eye care industry. Opticians aren’t eye doctors but are professionals that are trained to check lens prescriptions, provide, adjust, and repair glasses, frames, and contact lenses, help decide which type of lenses and frames will work best, order and check products, including contacts and eyeglass lenses, and take facial measurements. Opticians do not have the necessary training to diagnose eyesight problems, and they cannot treat eye conditions. They can become certified in some cases by completing an apprenticeship under eye doctors, but most will complete a two-year associate degree in opticianry or another type of certificate program from a community college or technical school.
Making the right choice for an eye doctor depends on your needs. For primary eye care, you may wish to start with an Optometrist. From there, they may refer you to an Ophthalmologist if needed. Always consider a candidate’s overall qualifications, experience, services offered, and patient satisfaction when choosing a physician. Always check for up to date certifications through an accredited healthcare institution and a valid license to practice through the respective state of optometry or state/international medical board in their state or country.