Highlighting the Distinctions between Optometrists and Ophthalmologists

Regular visits to an eye doctor is a vital aspect of health care, not just for tests of vision acuity, but also for detection of signs of serious eye problems. In Florida, there are community health centers (CHCs) spread across the state to provide health care to everyone but not all have doctors that provide complete eye examination services. Some centers can only provide the services of an optician whose eye care service is to fit vision-correcting devices like eyeglasses or contact lenses.

In Orlando, affordable eye care is available in Central Florida community health centers, as they have an optometrist orlando residents see at least once a year for a complete eye exam. Some Floridians, however, need to see an ophthalmologist if the optometrist detected indications that the resident has a serious eye problem that needs a higher level of treatment.

Yet this can lead to confusion, as many have the misconception that eye doctors have the same levels of medical knowledge and expertise.

To be clear, an optometrist is also an eye doctor but is different from an ophthalmologist as the latter not only has broader knowledge about eye care and eye disorders as well as their treatments. Ophthalmologists are also licensed to perform surgical procedures when necessary.

Usually, an optometrist teams up with an ophthalmologist as a way of providing optimum eye care to every patient.

Differentiating an Optometrist from an Ophthalmologist

To remove any confusion on who to look for when having eye problems, there are particular distinctions in their professional services. You can find below the differences distinguishing ophthalmologists from optometrists.

Optometrists are the ones who examine, diagnose, and prescribe treatment for minor eye problems, including wearing of corrective visual devices. Ophthalmologists on the other hand, are medical professionals that take care of eye conditions that need advanced medications and even surgery to fix the problem.

Optometrists aren’t medical doctors and their degree in optometry (OD) can be completed within three to four years. They mostly perform vision tests and eye exams, prescribe minor medications and corrective lenses, which most cases, are dispensed by their clinic. The medications optometrists can prescribe are limited to those that treat minor eye ailments or diseases.

On the other hand, ophthalmologists are MDs or medical doctors with specialization in eye and vision care. In order to become ophthalmologists, one must be a graduate of a bachelor’s degree and completed four years of education in a school of medicine. Thereafter, they undergo a year of internship training in a hospital plus three years minimum of residency.

Ophthalmologists can offer more types of services than optometrists; from fitting contact lenses and eyeglasses, to prescribing medications and treating eye diseases. Unlike optometrists, ophthalmologists who pass the medical board exam, are issued with a license to perform surgery and professionally practice medicine.

There are even ophthalmologists that have specializations in a particular area of eye care. whether or not, requiring surgical procedures. They usually treat more specific conditions that are much more complex and found only in particular groups of people; or in some cases, specific parts of an eye.