Optometrist vs Ophthalmologist

Optometrist Vs Ophthalmologist

While you might think that optometrists and ophthalmologists are the same thing, there are some important differences. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor with an MD or DO after their name who specializes in eye and vision care.

They treat eye diseases and perform surgery including LASIK. They can also recognize ocular symptoms of medical issues such as hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, thyroid disease, tumors and auto-immune diseases.


Optometrists are eye care professionals who focus on routine comprehensive exams and vision tests. They can diagnose and treat common ocular conditions such as glaucoma, dry eyes and infections. They can also prescribe a variety of eyeglasses and contact lenses.

They do not perform surgery. They often consult with ophthalmologists when they have detected a severe health problem or a condition that requires more advanced medical attention, such as diabetic macular edema.

To become an optometrist, one must first complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. They then attend optometry school to receive a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. During this time, they learn about the anatomy of the eye and visual system, as well as how to detect and treat a variety of ocular diseases.


Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in the eye and visual system. They complete 12-13 years of post-secondary education, including medical school and internships, and sometimes complete subspecialty fellowship training.

They can diagnose and treat medical eye diseases, perform surgery, prescribe medications, and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. They also participate in scientific research related to their area of expertise.

If you’re an introverted nerd who loves working with your hands, this is the career for you. But ophthalmology is a highly nuanced field and requires a great deal of detail, so you should be comfortable working with your eyes and not be too much of a klutz. Ophthalmologists often work on their own, but they may consult with other physicians (rheumatology, neurology, and endocrine) when they have questions about patients’ general health.


Ophthalmologists examine the interior and exterior of the human eye as part of a general medical exam. They diagnose and treat conditions involving the eye, such as cataracts, glaucoma, ocular trauma, and strabismus. They also recognize ocular manifestations of systemic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

They check the eyes with a variety of tests, including pupillary response test, which measures how quickly the pupils dilate and contract. They use a bright light to inspect the cornea and iris, and look at the lens for signs of cataracts or scratches.

They also conduct a visual acuity test that asks the patient to read an eye chart from a number of different distances. They might also perform a tonometry test, which involves blowing a puff of air into the eye to measure intraocular pressure.


While both ophthalmologists and optometrists can prescribe drugs for eye disorders, only an ophthalmologist is trained to perform any surgery. This may be done in a hospital setting or in the office, for example, to remove a cataract or a glaucoma implant. An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic physician and has the initials “M.D.” or “D.O.” after their name.

Optometrists are well positioned to detect a number of systemic diseases that may affect the eyes, including diabetes and hypertension. They are also skilled in prescribing corrective eyewear, such as glasses and contact lenses. In today’s health delivery system, a team approach between ophthalmology and optometry leads to the best results. That includes working with your primary care provider (PCP) for overall health and eye disease management.


When you’re considering any kind of surgery, it’s important to find a qualified health professional. The right practitioner will be able to explain the benefits, risks and possible side effects of the procedure.

While optometrists are trained to detect many asymptomatic eye diseases, they’re not qualified or licensed to perform surgery on the eyes. They can refer patients to an ophthalmologist who is, however.

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have completed a four-year college degree, a year of internship and a minimum of three years in a hospital-based residency specializing in the medical and surgical care of the eyes. They can also choose to subspecialize, requiring another year of training for that specialty. They are also involved in scientific research into the causes and treatment of various eye problems.

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