Optometrist vs Ophthalmologist – What’s the Difference

Optometrist vs Ophthalmologist

Our vision is one of our most important sources of perception. 80% of our perception comes from our eyes. Needless to say, a regular eye-checkup is an important component of eye care. Optometrists and Ophthalmologists both play an important role in providing eye-care services. However, they are differently qualified and help with different aspects of eye care.


Who is an Optometrist?

An optometrist is a primary health care professional who has a degree of Doctor of Optometry. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. He or she has completed college education and then studied for four more years in a school of optometry. An optometrist is qualified and certified to provide comprehensive eye care. They can conduct eye exams and vision tests, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect certain eye diseases, and prescribe medicine.  


Who is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. The difference between ophthalmologist vs optometrist lies in the level of their education and the kind of services they can provide. An ophthalmologist has completed college after which he or she has done an additional eight years of medical training. He or she may have also further studied for a few more years to specialize in a particular branch of eye care such as retina, cornea, glaucoma or others. Ophthalmologists are qualified to provide all kinds of eye care services such as conducting primary vision tests, diagnosing and treating common eye conditions, prescribing corrective glasses and lenses and fitting specialized lenses. They are qualified to conduct delicate eye surgeries.

Many specialist ophthalmologists are involved in scientific research involving eye diseases and are working towards finding a cure for debilitating eye diseases that can cause permanent vision loss.

Visiting an ophthalmologist for a regular eye-checkup is important to identify any underlying issues and maintain optimum eye health. Visiting an eye doctor is very important especially if you are above 40 years of age. This is because most eye diseases begin to develop around this age and early diagnosis of eye infections plays a paramount role in treating, preventing, or slowing it down before it causes any permanent damage.


Whom should you visit? Optometrist vs Ophthalmologist

The decision to choose between an optometrist vs ophthalmologist will depend on a host of factors. If you have been diagnosed with an eye disease by a primary healthcare provider, then it is important to consult an ophthalmologist for your ongoing eye care. Many times your optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist if any abnormalities are noticed during a routine eye checkup for your eyeglasses. For a routine eye checkup, involving prescription of eyeglasses or lenses the services of an optometrist are recommended.  

Irrespective of your choice between an optometrist vs ophthalmologist, a regular eye checkup is important to maintain your eye health. It is very important that you do not ignore any signs and symptoms of discomfort or change in vision, however subtle. Get an eye checkup as soon as possible, especially if you notice changes in your vision such as bulging of eyes, blurring of vision, floating spots, or any other changes however mild. Any carelessness in eye health can lead to permanent loss of vision.

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