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Eye care professional, What are the 3 types of eye doctors?

Monday, June 8th, 2020

When you’re experiencing vision problems and eye diseases what type of eye doctor should you see? Vision problems range from blurred vision, glaucoma, hyperopia and so much more. It is important to understand that there are 3 different types of eye doctors with unique specializations. Each type has different levels of expertise and training to be able to come up with an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan bespoke to your needs. Just like in the medical field, if you are experiencing heart problems you’ll go to a cardiologist. When you’re having an asthma attack the person to treat you is a pulmonologist. The same applies to eye problems. Let’s learn about the 3 different types of eye care providers and what services they provide.

The 3 types of eye doctors are ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians. Let’s check out what each of them does.

Ophthalmologists

In order to become a licensed ophthalmologist you need to complete your studies in medical school. It usually takes up to 8 years the least to train as an ophthalmologist. As soon as you become a licensed eye doctor you will be authorized to practice medicine and perform surgeries. Basically, the medical services offered by ophthalmologists are more or less the same as the services provided by optometrists since they too prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct problems with vision but besides these, an ophthalmologist is also responsible for diagnosing and treating eye diseases, conducting eye surgeries and doing research on the cure and causes of eye and vision problems. Ophthalmologists are considered a specialty in medicine. However, ophthalmologists can become subspecialists by undergoing additional years of training and education.

Optometrists

Optometrists provide patients with primary vision care. This includes testing their eyesight and correcting visual problems. Part of their responsibilities as eye care providers is to diagnose, treat and manage vision changes. Those who wish to become optometrists must enroll in an optometry school. This is different from a medical school. In order to achieve a doctorate degree in optometry you must undergo postgraduate studies that usually take 4 years to complete. What does an optometrist do? Part of their job as optometrists is to perform a physical eye exam and run vision tests. They are also allowed to prescribe and sell corrective lenses as well as prescribe medications that are designed to treat a number of eye diseases. Surgeries are also part of their scope of practice.

In America, every state board of optometry clearly states the services or drugs that a licensed optometrist can prescribe. There are states that allow optometrists to prescribe schedule II drugs that include hydromorphone, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Optometrists based in Alaska, Louisiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma are allowed to do laser eye surgeries. In most cases, it’s easier to book an appointment with an optometrist than an ophthalmologist. So if you are having eye problems, you can book a consultation with an optometrist first to undergo tests and procedures before scheduling an appointment with an ophthalmologist.

Opticians

An optician is an eye care provider that received extensive training to provide visual aids such as eyeglass frames and lenses, contact lenses and other visual devices to correct eye problems. They can utilize prescriptions made by either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist to verify their visual devices. Unfortunately, opticians are now allowed to diagnose and treat eye problems. If you want to be diagnosed and treated because you exhibit signs and symptoms of eye diseases we recommend you visit an ophthalmologist. Besides, your ophthalmologist will refer you to other eye care providers based on their assessment on your eyes.

Takeaway

There you have it, the 3 types of eye doctors and the services they offer. Make sure to book an appointment with the right eye doctor to save you money and time.