We often get the question, what is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist? So today we will try our best to clear up this vexing question.
Two Main Types of Eye Doctors
There are two main types of eye doctors and it’s not surprising that many people aren’t sure which is which. Read on to find out what each eye health professional does and the difference between them.
Ophthalmologists are physicians that have completed 4 or more years of premedical education, then 4 more years of medical school to get their doctorate degrees. After they are licensed physicians they complete internship and residency requirements of 4 or more years where they receive medical and surgical specialty training specifically in eye care. If an eye care provider has the letters “M.D.” after his/her name that is a clue they are an ophthalmologist.
Some of the services provided by an ophthalmologist include medical eye care for things like glaucoma, iritis or chemical burns. They provide surgical eye care for trauma to the eye, cataracts or tumors. They diagnose and treat eye conditions related to diseases like diabetes (diabetic retinopathy). Some offer plastic surgery services for drooping eyelids, skin tumors or to cosmetically improve the appearance of the skin around the eyes.
An Optometrist is a health care provider that has completed an undergraduate degree, 4 years of schooling to receive an optometry degree and some complete postgraduate clinical residencies to gain specialist certification. If your eye care provider has the letters “O.D.” after their name they are an optometrist.
Doctors of optometry are independent primary health care providers who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as diagnose related systemic conditions. They examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders; systemic diseases like hypertension and diabetes; and vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.
Optometrists also do testing to determine the patient’s ability to focus and coordinate the eyes, and to judge depth and see colors accurately. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and medicines to treat eye diseases.
Optometrists also may take part in pre- and postoperative care for patients that have had eye surgery. Some clinics have both optometrists and ophthalmologists working in the same office to provide a complete scope of eye care services for their patients.
We at Uptown Eye Care have both Optometrists and an Ophthalmologist available in our office so we can handle all your eye care needs. Contact Us with any of your questions or concerns and we will be happy to work with you and get them all answered.