What Are the Differences Between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians?
Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all provide eye care services. It is important to understand what each of the "three Os" is qualified to do.
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. An ophthalmologist has completed four or more years of college premedical education, four or more years of medical school, one year of internship and three or more years of specialized medical and surgical and refractive training and experience in eye care. An ophthalmologist is a specialist who is qualified by lengthy medical education, training and experience to diagnose, treat and manage all eye and visual systems and is licensed by a state regulatory board to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist is a medically trained specialist who can deliver total eye care: primary, secondary and tertiary (i.e., vision services, contact lenses, eye examinations, medical eye care and surgical eye care), diagnose general diseases of the body and treat ocular manifestations of systemic diseases.
An optometrist is a health service provider who is involved exclusively with vision problems. Optometrists are specifically educated and trained by an accredited optometry college in a four year course, but have not attended medical school. They are state licensed to examine the eyes and to determine the presence of vision problems. Optometrists determine visual acuity and prescribe spectacles, contact lenses and eye exercises. Optometrists may perform all services listed under the definition of an optician. Some states permit optometrists to give limited treatments of some eye conditions.
An optician is a technician who makes, verifies and delivers lenses, frames and other specially fabricated optical devices and/or contact lenses upon prescription to the intended wearer. The opticians' functions include prescription analysis and interpretation; determination of the lens forms best suited to the wearers needs; the preparation and delivery of work orders for the grinding of lenses and the fabrication of eye wear, the verification of the finished ophthalmic products; and the adjustment, replacement, REPAIR and reproduction of previously prepared ophthalmic lenses, frames and other specially fabricated ophthalmic devices.
Definitions Provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.