When you go to “the eye doctor” you likely encounter several professionals during your visit. We consider it a team approach to care. For example, ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians each play an important role in serving the needs of patients. But the levels of training and expertise are quite different for each role.
Here’s a quick look at the scope and nature of their work:
An ophthalmologist is a clinician, a medical (MD) or osteopathic doctor (DO), who specializes in eye and vision care. Due to their advanced education, ophthalmologists have more agency than optometrists or opticians in that they are licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery. He or she diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.
Optometrists are also part of the healthcare system, and they are qualified to manage testing, diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor, however. He or she typically earns an undergraduate degree and goes on to pursue a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school. To that end, they are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves the day-to-day tasks mentioned above.
Opticians work on the retail side of the business. They are trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, and contact lenses. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but that’s the extent of their training. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
While it’s helpful to be familiar with these terms, it’s even more important that you’re proactive in safeguarding your vision. By now you know that annual eye examinations are a vital component of maintaining excellent overall health. Your Midwest Eye Consultants eye doctor can work with your medical team to accurately diagnose and treat a number of health conditions. With a preventive approach to care, you can preserve eye health and vision as you age. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today and enjoy peace of mind.