The field of Medicine is indeed intricate with the many branching specializations one may choose to take if they desire to specialize in it. Since the human body has so many functions, it is only logical for medical professions to branch out into specializations so that they may focus better on their area of expertise. This much is true even in the optical field. From choosing to specialize in eye medicine, there are also a few professions eye doctors can choose from. Two such professions are Optometry (Eye Doctor) and Ophthalmology (Eye surgeon). Knowing the difference between the two is important even for patients to know which doctor to seek should they encounter any issues with their vision. In this article, we tackle the similarities and differences between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist.

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An Optometrist (Eye Doctor) is a medical eye professional. Those who attain the title have earned the degree of Doctor of Optometry (OD). They are authorized to perform standardized examinations on the eye to check for the causes of issues in the vision of the patient. Through the tests, they can also know if the patient may develop eye diseases in the future. Optometrists are also authorized to prescribe corrective eyewear such contact lenses and glasses which help correct vision problems due to errors in refraction of light by the eye. Once they diagnose a patient as having an eye problem or disease, they can also advise medication. The scope of an Optometrist’s roles may also vary slightly depending on the laws of the state or country he is in.

In terms of education, aspiring Optometrists must first finish a four-year degree Science program as their pre-medicine course. After that, they will also have to undergo a four-year post-graduate program as provided by licensed optometry schools. Their country’s licensing board will administer licensure examinations for them to be certified as licensed Optometrists. After being licensed, they will also continue ongoing education in their field to keep them updated on the latest developments in eye health.

On the other hand, an Ophthalmologist (Eye Surgeon) is an eye surgery medical expert. In terms of roles, they can provide all services that an Optometrist can give for their patients. On top of that, they can perform eye surgery on a patient with serious eye complications. The ability to perform surgery is what sets them apart from Optometrists and what makes them more exposed to critical medical situations. Surgery is deemed necessary on a case-to-case basis depending on the severity or life-threatening condition that a patient has. It is usually required when medication alone cannot correct the issues in the patient’s eyes.

In determining which eye professional can better address the condition of a patient’s eye, it mostly depends on whether surgery will be deemed necessary. Since both professionals can prescribe medications, perform eye exams, and provide corrective eyewear, the two are set apart in terms of the severity of the eye diseases that their patients have. Optometrists provide medical treatment and medication for the more common eye conditions such as glaucoma, dry eyes, and other infections. When it comes to more serious disorders and eye diseases, however, Ophthalmologists are the ones authorized to look into the condition more closely to operate if deemed necessary to rid of the condition.

While the two professionals may seem to be competing with each other, they do in fact co-exist and can work together for their patients. Optometrists are the first doctors to look into a patient’s condition. He will determine if the condition can be cured by pure medication or any other non-invasive treatment. However, if he deems the patient’s condition as serious, he will recommend an Ophthalmologist to look into the condition and take immediate action once recognized as needing surgery.

Now that we know the differences between an Optometrist and Ophthalmologist, we can better assess which professional to seek help first should we have any issues with our eyes or our vision.

Author's Bio: 

Umar Bajwa is a blogger and professional content writer who loves to write about lifestyle, fitness, and health-related topics.