Optometrist VS Ophthalmologist: What’s the Difference

Have you ever wondered about the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist? Many people are unaware, not until the day they need to see an eye doctor and then realize they have to decide what kind of expert is required. If this happens to you, who will you visit? Would you opt to schedule an appointment with an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? Before you go about searching for the best eye care professional, why don’t you find out whether you really need an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?

Primarily, both are considered eye care professionals. Both can perform eye examinations, diagnosis, and give treatment to certain eye diseases. What’s the difference between these two professionals? Although optometrists and ophthalmologists are similar in several ways, they differ in their level of training, experience, set of skills, and scope of practice.

What is an Optometrist?

An optometrist spends four years studying optometry after college and holds a degree in Optometry (Doctor of Optometry or O.D.). Optometrists are responsible for giving primary eye health care including prevention and treatment of eye problems and promotion of eye health. Thus, as mentioned, they are skilled and qualified to examine the eye.They have received specialized training and are fully equipped with skills to identify a specific eye condition correctly, thus appropriate diagnosis and treatment can be given to the patient. Examples of these conditions are eye injuries and visual problems such as astigmatism, nearsightedness, and farsightedness.

Can optometrists prescribe medications? The simple answer is yes — topical and oral medications. Also, they can prescribe corrective lenses for vision problems mentioned above. Go to topeyedoctorsnearme.com/washington/optometrist-seattle-wa/ for more information.

What is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist’s scope includes the medical and surgical aspects of eye care. Ophthalmologists attended medical school, did a year of internship, and three years of residency training. They are medical doctors or physicians, as opposed to optometrists. Similar to optometrists, they also do eye examinations and give diagnosis and treatment. They can diagnose not only vision problems, but also medical conditions such as glaucoma, cataract, and iritis. They can also prescribe medications and corrective lenses.  Thus, they have a broader scope of practice and can perform eye surgery if necessary.

Should You Visit an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?

Based on these facts, can we conclude that an ophthalmologist is a better choice than an optometrist? Not necessarily. Deciding who is better depends on our needs. If we need a routine eye examination, we have many options. If we have vision problems that need to be corrected by lenses, we might choose to see an optometrist. If we have a specific concern about a medical eye condition or need to undergo eye surgery, it is best to see an ophthalmologist.

It is good to keep in mind that it is not always about choosing who is better. At times, a collaboration between eye care professionals is needed. Ophthalmologists and optometrists might have to work together in certain circumstances.

Thus, whether you decide to see an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, you can be assured that you are visiting an expert in the field of eye care.