It has been said that no one ever injured their eye sight by looking on the bright side of things. With that being said, we all can agree with this lighthearted quotation in that care for our eye sight is important for our physical and mental health for a brighter side of living. Knowing how to best address any issues we may have that impact our sight is the key to maintaining good vision.
Knowing the difference between the three main types of eye care professionals – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians – is important in determining which of types of specialist can best address our needs.
Opticians are not medical doctors, however they are trained to fill prescriptions for eyeglasses. They will help a patient determine which eyeglass frames will provide not only the best fit, but also be the best frame for use with a specific prescription. Once the frames have been determined, an optician will adjust frames for proper fit. This fit is important as the lens must rest correctly before the eye, on the bridge of the nose, for an optimum visual experience.
An optometrist is also not a medical doctor but is instead a Doctor of Optometry, an O.D. An optometrist must first complete an undergraduate college education followed by four years of further education in a school of optometry. Those studying to be an optometrist receive education in care of the eyes, however they do not learn about the treatment of the rest of the patient’s body. Optometrists can pursue postgraduate studies to specialize in certain type of eye care such as family eye care, optometry, vision rehabilitation and therapy or sports eye care, to name a few of the many different specialties.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor. This type of board certified medical doctor specializes in eye and vision care. Those studying to be an ophthalmologist must complete four years of medical school and a full year of an internship in general medicine. In addition, three years in a university or hospital-based residency in ophthalmology must be completed. During residency, the ophthalmologist will be trained in all aspects of eye care, including the prevention and the diagnosis of eye diseases. In addition, the medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases will be taught. It is only an ophthalmologist who can provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and/or contact lenses to performing a broad spectrum of eye surgeries. There are ophthalmologists who will choose to specialize in a specific type of ophthalmological care, such as retina, cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, refractive surgery, or pathology. These medical specialists must receive additional schooling and hospital-based based residency.
Knowing your specific eye needs and who will best treat those needs will help you see a brighter future.