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What's the Difference Between an Optician, an Optometrist, and an Ophthalmologist?

You know it's essential to take care of your eyesight and regularly see an eye care professional. Not only do regular eye exams play an important role in eye health, but the doctor can detect other health issues before you start showing symptoms. These health issues include high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, MS, thyroid disorders, Parkinson's disease, and more. Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists each play an essential role, but many patients confuse one for the other. Below, we'll discuss each profession and its role in eye care.


Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist has attended medical school and received a doctor of medicine (MD) or a doctor of osteopathy degree (DO). Apart from completing four years of medical school, an ophthalmologist must also obtain a Bachelor's degree, complete an internship, and complete a three-year hospital-based ophthalmology residency. Think of an ophthalmologist as an eye care specialist with specific training in treating and diagnosing vision and eye conditions, which includes examinations, prescribing medications, and performing surgeries.


Optometrist

Instead of attending medical school, an optometrist completes four years of training at an optometry school and earns a doctor of optometry degree (OD). Before attending optometry school, they must earn a Bachelor's degree. Once graduating from the optometry program, they must take the National Board of Examiners in Optometry exams. If they pass, they must obtain a license to practice optometry. Some optometrists choose to do an additional residency or fellowship to specialize and gain more experience in specific fields such as primary care, ocular disease, low vision, or contact lenses. While optometrists can't perform surgery in most states, they can still treat eye diseases, prescribe medications, prescribe glasses or contacts, and give eye exams.


Optician

An optician is licensed to design, provide, and fit corrective lenses. Opticians don't diagnose conditions or write prescriptions, but they do use the prescriptions supplied by either an optometrist or ophthalmologist to provide corrective lenses to patients. The optician takes measurements such as temple length, eye size, and pupillary distance to ensure that the glasses work for the patient.


Bonus: Ocularist

An ocularist is a professional who creates an ocular prosthesis for someone who has lost one or both eyes. While not doctors, they are trained to fabricate prosthetic eyes, fit them to patients, and help them maintain their prostheses. To become an ocularist, one must undergo an apprenticeship under a Board Approved Diplomat Ocularist.


Scope Optometry is your trusted partner in addressing your vision and eye health needs. We offer comprehensive eye exams and a selection of stylish frames and sunglasses. Whether you need new glasses, an eye exam, or our other services, contact us today or schedule an appointment. Scope Optometry is always here for you.

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