What is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

WHAT IS AN OPTOMETRIST?

An optometrist is a health care professional that provides primary care for the eyes, they are considered your non-surgical eye doctor. To become an optometrist, one must complete four years of pre-professional undergraduate college education followed by four years of optometry school.  In optometry school, optometrists receive training on systemic disorders with emphasis on how they are correlated to the eyes. Optometrists must pass the board examination in order to become licensed.

The primary functions of an optometrist are to perform comprehensive eye examinations, (including the prescribing of glasses and contact lenses), as well as diagnosing, treating and managing many ocular diseases. Optometrists are licensed to prescribe both topical and oral medications to manage eye infections and glaucoma. When surgery is needed or treatment for certain retinal disorders, an optometrist will refer their patient to an ophthalmologist.


WHAT IS AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST?

An ophthalmologist completes medical school and a year of internship; every ophthalmologist spends a minimum of three years in a university medical center and hospital-based residency specializing in ophthalmology. During residency, the ophthalmologist receives special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases.

Ophthalmologists are your surgical eye doctor. They have a knowledge of systemic diseases and their treatment and how they can affect the eyes. An Eye M.D. can deliver total eye care, including performing a complete eye examination, diagnosing and treating eye diseases, and performing surgery on the eyes and the area around the eye.


WHICH EYE DOCTOR SHOULD YOU VISIT?

At Ophthalmology Physicians & Surgeons, our optometrists’ and ophthalmologists’ work hand in hand to provide comprehensive eye care, treat eye diseases and provide post-surgical care. In most situations, patients will see an optometrist first and schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist only if medically necessary.  “All the doctors in our practice work closely together to provide the best quality, comprehensive eye care that we can to all of our patients” stated by Francis Clark, M.D.

To schedule an appointment at Ophthalmology Physicians & Surgeons, give us a call at one of our six convenient locations in the greater Philadelphia area.

 

Author
Francis Clark, MD

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