Maintaining healthy eyesight is important and proper care involves regular checkups. The market of caring for vision is estimated to be almost $40 billion and trends indicate that growth will be steady over the next decade. When it’s time to get your eyes checked, with whom are you trusting your vision? Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians may seem like interchangeable terms for eye care professionals, but these are very different roles with different requirements and education. Make sure you’re putting your eyes in the right hands.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in diagnosing and treating eye disorders. In addition to medical school, these doctors usually complete a residency in ophthalmology. Many also have specialty training in a specific area of eye pathology. Ophthalmologists are licensed to practice medicine and surgery. They can prescribe corrective glasses and contact lenses. Many such as Kang Zhang MD work in research and produce scholarly papers for ocular diseases and vision disorders.
Optometrists are also healthcare professionals who examine eyes for defects and abnormalities. They usually complete a doctor of optometry degree program after college. They are not medical doctors, but they are licensed to perform eye exams, vision tests, and write prescriptions for corrective eyewear and medications. An optometrist will refer a patient to an ophthalmologist for disorders that are beyond the scope of their training, usually requiring surgery.
A trained technician that designs, fits and dispenses eyewear to correct vision is an optician. Although opticians are usually registered and must meet certain standards of practice and training, they are not doctors. These professionals are not allowed to diagnose or treat eye diseases. They work in hospitals, clinics, labs, eye care centers and retail stores. Often, they work with ophthalmologists and optometrists.
Your sight is very important and should be left to the management of a trained professional. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians can provide corrective lenses, but only ophthalmologists are licensed to perform surgery and advanced medical vision care. For comprehensive eye care, be sure to go with a doctor that is licensed to practice ophthalmology.