What’s the Difference Between an Optometrist, an Ophthalmogist, and an Optician?

by Aug 29, 2022Community

When seeking eye care, many people are confused by the roles of optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians. Each of these professionals provide an important role in the care of eye health and providing glasses.


What is an Optometrist?

An optometrist, or optometric physician, is someone who has graduated with a doctorate from an optometry program after an undergraduate degree.

All optometry doctorate programs are four-year programs which provide both educational classes and clinical experience before graduation.

Many optometrists also elect to pursue an additional level of training in a one- or two-year residency program after graduation.


What Does an Optometrist Do?

An optometrist is the primary care provider for eye care. Similar to a primary care medical doctor, an optometrist can provide an annual routine health check or assess for disease or infection based on a problem.

Common reasons to visit the optometrist include blurry vision, a red eye, eye pain, double vision, headaches, and bumps on the eye or eyelid.

Additionally, optometrists are trained to manage and treat a wide variety of eye diseases including glaucoma, eye infections (pink eye), and dry eyes.

Along with managing and checking eye health, an optometrist can prescribe glasses for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

Many optometrists will have an optical store in the same office to provide an option to purchase glasses if they are deemed necessary.

Optometrists can also adjust and fit glasses based on the prescription that they have written.


What is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD or DO) who has specialized in eye surgery and advanced eye care.

An ophthalmologist has completed general medical school and then becomes specialized during a multiple year residency to become comfortable with eye surgery, eye injections, and treating eye disease.


What Does an Ophthalmologist Do?

An ophthalmologist is considered a specialist and requires a referral by many insurance companies.

Any eye surgery including cataract surgery, retina surgery, and eye turn surgery are primarily performed by ophthalmologists.

Additionally, ophthalmologists can provide injections into the eye to allow medication to reach the back of the eyes quickly.

Usually another provider (either an optometrist or primary care doctor) will make a referral to an ophthalmologist if and when it is needed.

The ophthalmologist may follow you for several visits or may only require a visit or two to provide the needed care.


Who is an Optician?

An optician is a professional who has trained in making, adjusting, and fitting glasses. An optician may have completed a training and become certified by the state as a board-certified optician.

Many opticians have completed a two- or four-year degree program in opticianry, but some have been trained on the job by experienced opticians.


What Does an Optician Do?

An optician will usually work in an optical store or alongside an optometrist in the office to be the primary salesperson and fitter for glasses.

When glasses are not fitting properly or are broken, an optician can adjust or repair the glasses as needed.

Opticians do not provide direct eye care for eye health but are important in providing accurate and properly fitting glasses when needed.


How to Determine What Profession is Needed

If you are ever unsure on what professional is the best option to help in your specific circumstances, you can always reach out and describe the circumstances before scheduling an appointment.

All eye care members are well versed in the fields of the others and can make the needed referral or can help direct you to the best care.

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   Our eye doctors at Nittany Eye Associates excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists if you would like to learn more about Optometrists, Ophthomologist, and Opticians.  Be sure to visit Nittany Eye Associates where we always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.


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