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Optometrists & Ophthalmologists

Illustration of an eye doctor

Difference Between Optometrists & Ophthalmologists

Optometrists and ophthalmologists study to diagnose and treat with a wide range of eyesight illnesses and ailments. This includes diagnosing vision issues and prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Many people question who they should see for their yearly eye exams. Is one doctor better than the other for preventative vision well-being?

What kind of training does an optometrist have?

Optometrists have four years of post-graduate education through optometry school. Upon graduation, he or she holds the title of Doctor of Optometry. For those that would like to specialize in a unique aspect of vision care, such as pediatric optometry, a medical residency may also be needed. The optometrist is the provider of preventative vision health for the majority of patients. He or she should be the initial source for any eyesight troubles.

What is the optometrist's role?

An optometrist joins or creates their own medical practice to provide comprehensive eye exams to patients. During these eye exams, he or she will not only address any eyesight issues, but also identify various eyesight conditions and illnesses like glaucoma and macular degeneration. If the Optometrist is not in a position to treat a particular illness, he or she will refer the individual to an ophthalmologist if the need arises.

After an eyesight exam is done, the optometrist can prescribe prescription eyeglasses or prescription contact lenses to correct any vision issues. Some patients even use their prescription to order prescription sunglasses in addition to their normal glasses.

How do medical procedures referrals work?

Optometrists aren't licensed to perform surgery treatment. Even so, there are several instances where optometrists may find out about a condition during a routine exam that prompts the need for surgical treatment. The optometrist then refers patients to an ophthalmologist, who performs surgical procedures regarding vision. In many instances, the optometrist and ophthalmologist will work together to make sure the greatest care is taken to preserve vision. The optometrist might also complete all pre-and post-surgical doctor visits.

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a graduate of medical school that has additional training based on his or her sub-specialty of practice. This may include particular forms of surgery, immunology or pediatrics. Although an ophthalmologist may also perform routine eye exams and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, most focus on their specialized region of advanced eyesight issues.

Who should I visit for an eye exam?

Your yearly eye exam appointment, as well as any other appointments if you suspect an eyesight issue, ought to be scheduled with an optometrist. If required, the optometrist can refer you to an ophthalmologist for specialized care. For some with conditions such as diabetes, a yearly exam with an ophthalmologist is recommended, on top of the typically scheduled optometrist exams.

For most people, optometrists are the most important doctors that treat eyesight difficulties because their prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses.

Think about it this way: seeing an ophthalmologist initially would be similar to going to a surgeon when you have a sore throat. Although there might be a condition causing the sore throat that will call for the expertise of the surgeon, your initial appointment should be with your family practitioner who can examine you to make that decision. Schedule an eye exam appointment today.

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