When you’ve got an eye problem, it may be confusing trying to figure out which of the various eye doctors to call. The answer depends upon exactly what eye care attention you need, but you’ll most likely need to see all three of the eye care specialists at one point in your lifetime.
Your optometrist is a person you generally wish to see once a year, especially if you are near or far-sighted. These eye doctors focus on performing vision tests and writing the prescriptions for vision correction options. He or she has a strong knowledge of eyecare, and has completed optometry school plus the prerequisite college courses. These professionals are your first line of defense if you begin to develop a major problem such as diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or cataracts since they can monitor changes in your eyes from year to year and refer you to a treating ophthalmologist to manage these conditions.
An ophthalmologist is basically a doctor of the eyes. He or she has attended medical school plus specialized courses in eyecare, and is qualified and trained to diagnose and treat eye diseases. This highly trained individual may also perform eye surgeries as necessary. The duties of an ophthalmologist encompass those of traditional eye doctors, such as identifying vision problems and prescribing corrective lenses or glasses to a patient. An ophthalmologist may also have a specialty that has required additional training and education, such as one who specializes in treating Glaucoma.
Last but not least, opticians see the more glamorous side of eye care — fitting you with vision correction options. This certified individual can help you select frames and lenses and fit them to your face, or fill the contact lens prescriptions written by your optometrist. He or she can educate you on the care of your glasses or contacts and help you with eyeglass repairs. An optician does not treat eye diseases or test vision but can refer you to eye doctors who do.
Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians work hand in hand to provide the full solution to your vision needs. Your eyes are special, and deserve a full team to care for them!