When it comes to eye care, it can be difficult to know who to turn to. Should you visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? While they are both doctors specializing in eye care, there are a few key differences between them. Let’s explore what those differences are so you can make the best choice for your vision.
What is an Optometrist?
An optometrist is a doctor who specializes in vision and eye care. They attend school for four years of professional training and have earned a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. An optometrist is qualified to diagnose conditions like nearsightedness and farsightedness and more serious health issues like glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment. They also prescribe corrective lenses such as eyeglasses and contact lenses, monitor vision changes over time, and help patients with visual rehabilitation if needed. An optometrist can diagnose and treat visual problems and manage diseases, injuries, and other eye disorders.
What is an Ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases or disorders of the eyes. They attend eight years of professional training after college, including four years of medical school, followed by at least four years of specialized residency training in ophthalmology. In addition to diagnosing diseases or disorders of the eyes, they also perform surgery on the eye when necessary, such as cataract removal, retinal detachment surgery, glaucoma shunt procedures, eyelid surgery, and laser correction surgery for vision problems like myopia or astigmatism.
Differences between Optometrists & Ophthalmologists
The biggest difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist is their level of specialty; while optometrists focus specifically on vision care and the diagnosis of disorders of the eye that require surgery, ophthalmologists have surgical training, so in addition to medical treatments for eye diseases and disorders, they are also surgeons.
If you have an issue with your vision, call your eye doctor. While it’s essential to know the differences between the two types of eye doctors, it’s equally important to visit a doctor that you trust. The doctors at New Vision Eye Center are board-certified ophthalmologists. They refer to area optometrists – and the opposite occurs as well. When their patients require glasses or contact lenses, New Vision Eye Center refers all of their patients to their affiliate optometric physicians. (You can find a list of their affiliates on their website.) Likewise, if the patients of an optometrist need surgery, they refer them to an ophthalmologist.
While there are differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists, both are eye doctors that play a vital role in vision care. Remember to make an appointment to see your eye doctor for a baseline eye disease screening at age 40, even if you have no problems with your vision. It’s important to see an eye doctor at age 40 because early signs of disease and changes in vision often begin at this age. If you have diabetes or wear contacts, you need eye exams earlier and more often.
An appointment can be made with a doctor on the world-class eye care team at New Vision Eye Center by calling 772.257.8700