When it comes to eye care, there are two primary professionals that you can seek assistance from eye care professionals - optometrists and ophthalmologists. While both are trained to provide eye care, there are some differences between them. Understanding these differences can help you make informed decisions about your eye care needs. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist and which one you should see for routine eye care.
The role of the optometrist has evolved over the years into a primary care medical role with a lot of overlap into the role of the ophthalmologist. This has to do with a variety of factors including a major national shortage of Ophthalmologists necessitating mobilizing optometrists to stand in. In the past a clear line was drawn at surgery, however due to the shortage and improvements in technology, as of 2023, 10 states license optometrists to perform certain surgical procedures.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who are licensed to provide primary vision care. They typically complete a four-year doctor of optometry degree program after completing an undergraduate degree. During their education, optometrists receive training in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of a range of eye conditions, including vision problems, eye diseases, and injuries.
Optometrists can perform routine eye exams to assess the overall health of the eyes and identify any vision problems. They can prescribe corrective lenses, including glasses and contact lenses, to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. They may also prescribe medications to treat certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma, and provide pre- and post-operative care for certain eye surgeries.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and disorders. They typically complete four years of medical school, followed by a one-year internship and a three-year residency in ophthalmology. Some ophthalmologists may also complete a fellowship to further specialize in a particular area of eye care, such as glaucoma or pediatric ophthalmology.
As medical doctors, ophthalmologists are licensed to perform eye surgeries and provide a broader range of eye care services than optometrists. They can diagnose and treat a wide variety of eye conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. They can also prescribe medications, perform laser surgeries, and provide pre- and post-operative care for advanced eye surgeries.
For routine eye care, such as a comprehensive eye exam, emergency eye exams, diabetic eye exams, dry eye treatment, or the prescription of glasses or contact lenses, either an optometrist or ophthalmologist can provide the necessary care. However, there are a few factors that may influence which one you choose to see.
An important factor to consider is the availability of the eye care provider. Our optometrists are more widely available than ophthalmologists and may have more flexible hours, making it easier to schedule an appointment. Additionally, our optometrists may be more affordable than ophthalmologists, as their eye care services tend to be less towards the surgical side.
Furthermore our optometrist schedules longer exams and spends more time with the patient to cover their questions and concerns.
If you're searching for a new optometrist, you can find an optometrist near you online by using the phrase “optometrist near me” or “eye doctor near me”.
If you would like to schedule an eye exam, you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.