Why Visit an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist?
While ophthalmologists and optometrists each play an important role in eye care, patients often want to know when to select one over the other. 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. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery, and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Many are also involved in scientific research in hopes of finding causes and new treatments for vision disorders.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and vision correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. While not medical doctors, optometrists have earned a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three or more years of college. An optometrist primarily performs eye exams and vision tests and corrects refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are also licensed to prescribe medications to treat certain eye problems and diseases.