Are you suffering from an eye problem and are looking for an ideal eye specialist who can give a perfect solution? Well, choosing an eye doctor is an indispensable and vital decision. No matter what happens; you will be relying upon your eye specialist for protecting the most valuable sense of sight and maintaining a good vision throughout your life. As a matter of fact, your decision of choosing a specialist is foremost dependent on your knowledge about the different eye care providers that are available. Apart from optometrists and ophthalmologists, even opticians contribute significantly to eye care – something that most of us are not aware of! This ‘third O’ is also an expert to render perfect eye care solutions to as many people as possible. So, let’s differentiate among the three to know which one is suitable for what problems.
Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist vs. Optician
Optometrists refer to eye specialists who typically have the OD or Doctor of Optometry degree. They are well trained in how to examine eyes for both sight as well as health problems and how to rectify refractive disorders by recommending contact lenses or eyeglasses. These experts are licensed practitioners to treat some specific eye disorders and diseases, which is determined by the state law or the state’s board of optometry. An optometrist needs to complete a degree program of four years plus another four years of post-graduate practice in an optometry school.
On the other hand, ophthalmologists are medical doctors or osteopathic doctors who have done specialization in vision and eye care. They are qualified to examine the eyes, diagnose the disease, treat the disorder or disease, prescribe medications, and perform eye surgery. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists prescribe lenses or eyeglasses and examine eyes. However, a role of an optometrist may be extended up to pre- and post-operative care if an eye surgery has been done by an ophthalmologist. With some exceptions, the American optometrists are not licensed for conducting an eye surgery.
Talking about the education qualifications, an ophthalmologist must complete four years of college along with another four years of medical school, an internship of one year, and at least three years of hospital-based care in ophthalmology.
Unlike an ophthalmologist or optometrist, an optician is not a trained or qualified eye doctor although she or he plays a vital role by being a part of the eye care team. The main role of an optician is to consider the prescriptions by the two experts to find the well fitting lenses, eyeglasses, and other eyewear. In no case, an optician is allowed to examine, diagnose, and treat a vision-related problem. There are a few states wherein the opticians need to undergo a complete opticianry training program to get a license for practice.
Who is Ideal for What?
Both the optometrists and ophthalmologists conduct eye exams, detect problems, diagnose diseases, and treat the ones that need medical or non-medical therapy. While all ophthalmologists focus on almost all kinds of eye problems, some specialize in a specific area of surgical or therapeutic eye care. These experts are known as subspecialist who typically undergoes a fellowship training of one or two more years in the chosen area. These specialists are experts in the areas such as cornea, retina, glaucoma, plastic surgery, and pediatrics.
It can also happen that you may approach an optometrist who is known for treating common eye disorders such as infections and dryness along with a few chronic diseases like glaucoma without an ophthalmologist. But when it comes to surgery of minor and complex disorders, only an ophthalmologist is the ideal choice!
Vicki Crawford is a blogger who loves to research on health topics. At present, she is researching on ophthalmology as he wants to approach a perfect eye care expert.