Types of Eye Professionals.

Types of Eye Professionals.

The difference between an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician.

Your sight depends on seeing the right eye doctor at the right time.

When it is a question of vision care, it is important to have your “eyes checked” with the correct eye care professional. Ophthalmologists, Optometrists and Opticians all play an important role in providing eye care for you. The major difference among them is their expertise and training.

Doctor of Optometry (O.D.s/Optometrists)

ODs are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye.  Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.

Optometrists provide the following services:

  • annual or routine eye exams, including eye health education
  • diagnosis, medical treatment or minor surgical procedures for eye conditions
  • prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids
  • medical treatments or minor surgical procedures for eye conditions
  • pediatric, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, and post-surgical eye care

Ophthalmologists (M.D.)

You can visit an ophthalmologist for the same care as an optometrist, such as a routine eye exam or prescription refill. However, an ophthalmologist can also perform eye surgery for various diseases and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and strabismus surgery, and more.

An Ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor. They complete 12 or 13 years of education compared to 8 years for an Optometrist.

Ophthalmologists provide the following services:

  • basic optometry services
  • medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases
  • rehabilitation services after eye surgery


Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
Their education can range from an associates to certification which can be completed in one or two years.

Opticians provide the following services:

  • Receiving and filling eye prescriptions from optometrists and ophthalmologists
  • measuring, fitting, and adjusting eyeglass frames
  • helping customers choose eyeglass frames, and other vision accessories
  • performing general office duties as part of an optometric office team


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