There are so many types of physicians and specialists that it can be hard to know who you really need to see. If you’re just looking into physicians for your eyes, for example, you may get hung up on the difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists. And though they both deal with the eyes, they are different in specific ways. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between ophthalmologists and optometrists.
An optometrist is an eye doctor who examines eyes, treating both vision and health problems. They correct vision issues by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists might also provide vision therapy.
Optometrists are licensed to prescribe medications to treat some eye problems and diseases. What they’re allowed to do depends on the state, so your optometrist may be able to do more than your old one (if you’ve moved, for example). Though many are not trained to perform eye surgery, some may be able to perform surgery. They may help support your pre- and post-operative care if you have eye surgery from another provider.
Like optometrists, ophthalmologists examine eyes and are able to prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Where they differ is in surgery, mostly. Overall, ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, prescribe medications, diagnose and treat disease, and perform eye surgery.
There’s another type of eye specialist that you may confuse with the others. Though opticians are not eye doctors, you may be confused about what they really do. They take the prescriptions from your optometrist or ophthalmologist to correctly fit and provide you with your glasses.
Who should I see?
Generally, it’s up to you who to see. You may look for an Ophthalmologist or an eye surgeon who is specially trained in the eye issue you are experiencing if you happen to have a specific concern.
If you only need to get your glasses or contact lens prescription updated, then it’s a matter of preference.