What Are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians?
Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all provide eye care services. It is important to understand what each of the "three Os" is qualified to do.
An ophthalmologist is a physician (doctor of medicine, MD, or doctor of osteopathy, DO) who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury. An ophthalmologist has completed four or more years of college premedical education, four or more years of medical school, one year of internship and three or more years of specialized medical and surgical and refractive training and experience in eye care. An ophthalmologist is a specialist who is qualified by lengthy medical education, training and experience to diagnose, treat and manage all eye and visual systems and is licensed by a state regulatory board to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist who can deliver total eye care: primary, secondary and tertiary (i.e., vision services, contact lenses, eye examinations, medical eye care and surgical eye care), diagnose general diseases of the body and treat ocular manifestations of systemic diseases.
An optometrist is a primary health care practitioner trained to diagnose, treat, and manage vision and eye health conditions. In addition to the use of pharmaceutical agents, optometrists prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy, and perform minor surgical procedures. Doctors of optometry complete their four-year undergraduate studies before entering optometry school, which consists of a four-year curriculums and includes at least two years of clinical training. Following graduation from an accredited college of optometry, all optometrists must pass a battery of tests issued by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, which includes clinical competency testing.
An optician is a technician who makes, verifies and delivers lenses, frames and other specially fabricated optical devices and/or contact lenses upon prescription to the intended wearer. The opticians' functions include prescription analysis and interpretation; determination of the lens forms best suited to the wearers needs; the preparation and delivery of work orders for the grinding of lenses and the fabrication of eye wear, the verification of the finished ophthalmic products; and the adjustment, replacement, REPAIR and reproduction of previously prepared ophthalmic lenses, frames and other specially fabricated ophthalmic devices.