Ophthalmologist vs optometrist. What is the difference

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who specializes in vision and eye care. Ophthalmologists are trained to do eye examinations , diagnose and cure disease, prescribe drugs and perform eye surgery. In addition they write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist is a eye doctor who has earned the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists examine eyes to both vision and health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing glasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low vision care and vision treatment .

The biggest difference between the two is that an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the eye, and an optometrist is an eye doctor.

If your eyes are healthy and do not need specialized medical or surgical procedures, the type of eye doctor that you choose for a routine eye examination is a question of personal preference.

Optometrists and ophthalmologists both execute routine eye examinations and both kinds of eye doctors are trained to detect, diagnose and manage eye diseases that require medical and anti inflammatory therapy.

When should you see an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full range of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to performing complex and delicate eye surgery. They might also be involved in research about eye diseases and remedies. Some ophthalmologists will get additional fellowship training in a subspecialty field of ophthalmology, including retina, cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, oculoplastics, refractive surgery, uveitis, pathology, or neuro-ophthalmology.

When should you see an optometrist?

Optometrists can perform an eye examination and can ascertain the existence of vision-related problems. They can also prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Based on the condition in which they practice, optometrists may be allowed to treat eye diseases and prescribe eye drops for various conditions, but they are not trained or licensed to perform surgery on the eye.

Seeing both an ophthalmologist and an optometrist

In many cases, care for a particular eye problem might be provided by an optometrist and an ophthalmologist working together. This arrangement is known as co-management.

In co-management, your primary care doctor (usually an optometrist) refers you to a specialist (usually an ophthalmologist) for a definitive diagnosis and treatment strategy. The ophthalmologist might opt to manage the problem medically, perform eye surgery, or even both. After the status is controlled or properly treated, the expert then sends you straight back to your primary care eye doctor, who proceeds to monitor and treat your condition or carry out post-operative care dependent on the specialist’s recommendations.

Co-management is an especially good solution if you’re quite happy with the standard of care you are receiving from your primary care doctor, but you desire to have any specific medical eye conditions treated by an experienced specialist.