When you want to see a doctor that specializes in something, sometimes finding the right doctor is straightforward and sometimes it is a little more complicated. Finding an eye doctor might be confusing because there are a few different types of doctors that you could see. These doctors have different capabilities, training, and more. On this page, I will discuss the optometrist, the ophthalmologist, and the optician. All three are types of eye doctors who could help you with different problems. Understanding the right doctor that fits your needs can be helpful if you are experiencing eye problems.
What is an Optometrist?
Optometrists are considered general, primary eye doctors. They spend four years in a training program in order to get an optometry degree after college. The kind of tasks that optometrists can perform include:
- Perform vision checks and general eye exams.
- Provide vision therapy and aids to help with low vision.
- Manage certain eye conditions such as glaucoma and dry eye.
- Prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses.
What is an Ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists differ in some ways from optometrists. Optometrists participate in a special optometry program, but ophthalmologists actually go to medical school, complete a one year internship, and a three year residency. Sometimes after residency, they also participate in a fellowship program. As you can see, the schooling is more rigorous for ophthalmologists than for optometrists. As such, ophthalmologists can offer full eye services to patients. This includes:
- Eye exams and other vision services.
- Surgical eye care for issues such as cataracts, eye trauma, glaucoma, and more.
- Plastic surgery on or near the eyes to smooth wrinkles, fix drooping eyelids, and more.
- Medical eye care for issues such as iritis and glaucoma.
- Diagnose eye problems that might be related to other diseases, such as arthritis or diabetes.
If you face an eye issue, an ophthalmologist might work with an optometrist and together they may treat you.
What is an Optician?
Finally, consider the optician if you need help taking care of your eyes. Opticians are not actually eye doctors, but they can fill prescriptions prescribed by eye doctors. They usually get a one or two year degree or certificate that qualifies them to work as an optician. Opticians can:
- Fill prescriptions.
- Take measurements of your eyes or face.
- Check your contact lens prescription.
- Help you decide on a pair of glasses.
- Adjust or repair contact lenses or glasses.
- Order eye products on your behalf.
Choosing an Eye Doctor
If you are looking for someone to give you regular eye exams, prescribe glasses or contact lenses, and provide basic vision services, an optometrist might be the right fit for you. If you think that you will need surgery or detailed medical attention, an ophthalmologist might be the more appropriate choice. And of course, you can work with an optician when ordering or maintaining your glasses or contacts.
Whichever doctor you choose, remember that your eye care is in their hands. If an eye doctor acts recklessly or makes a mistake, you could be entitled to help and compensation. Contact our office to learn more.