December 1, 2019

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

Being one of the most delicate organs, eyes ask for special care and attention.

Whether it is about eating the right food, wearing high-quality eyewear to protect the vision from UV rays, or visiting an eye doctor at regular intervals, you need to follow a healthy ritual to take care of your eyes. 

Getting your eyes checked is your first step towards a healthy vision. But, the question remains, whom should you consult?

Eye care specialists are basically of three types; an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and optician. While you might be quite aware of an optician, the two others might leave you confused. However, how can we leave you uninformed? We, the team of Jackson Davenport, have drafted this post to help you understand the clear distinction between different eye doctors, have a read – 

What is an Optometrist?

Optometry is a specialized field of science that offers a degree in optometry known as OD. So, an optometrist is a person who holds a degree in optometry. 

You must have come across an optometrist once in your life without actually knowing the crux behind the degree. An optometrist is a person that examines your eyes for vision and health issues, corrects your refractive errors by prescribing your correct eyeglasses or contact lenses. In addition to this, an optometrist can also provide you with vision therapy in rare cases. Here’s more you should know –

An optometrist cannot specifically prescribe you medicines. However, the United States of America gives an optometrist right to prescribe medications to treat eye disorders. Apart from this, an optometrist also ensures your pre and post-operative care following eye surgery. 

An optometrist must complete four years of college, four years of post-graduate professional training in optometry school. Thus, the educational qualifications of an optometrist are equivalent to a dentist.

So, the person who examines your eye checks your vision, recommends you eyewear or top brand sunglasses, and provides you with additional care during your visit is an optometrist. 

What is an Ophthalmologist?

In general terms, you can consider ophthalmologist your “real-doctor”. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor or he is a person who holds a degree in osteopathic medicine (DO). Osteopathic medicine science deals with complete eye and vision care. An ophthalmologist performs all the functions from diagnosis to your eye, performing eye exams, prescribing medications to performing surgery. This person can also prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses or other corrective measures for your eye.

An ophthalmologist must complete four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship, and at least three years of hospital-based residency in ophthalmology. So, if we compare the educational qualifications of an optometrist and an ophthalmologist to a dentist. Then, an optometrist would be a general dentist while an ophthalmologist would be an oral surgeon. 

As we have discussed optometrist and ophthalmologist, let’s have a quick view of an optician

What is an Optician?

An optician is entirely different from an optometrist and ophthalmologist. He is not a doctor but plays a crucial role in your eye care. Opticians generally go through the prescription written by an optometrist or ophthalmologist and provide you with eyeglasses.

Opticians also undergo a specialized optician training program in a few states to get a license for selling eyewear while in other states an optician can also fit contact lenses after undergoing a certification program. 

Whom Should You Go To?

The answer lies in your current eye condition. If your eyes are healthy and you just need a quick checkup to keep a check on your eye health, you can go for any of them. It comes down to your preference as an optometrist and ophthalmologist are both trained in diagnosing, correcting, and prescribing eyewear for corrective measures.

On the other hand, if you are going through a severe eye disorder, including glaucoma or cataract, it is preferred to seek help from someone who is trained and thorough in monitoring and treating your condition. These kinds of severe conditions usually call for an ophthalmologist. In such cases, an optometrist might be of no use to you. 

However, you can visit an optometrist for treating minor conditions including dry eyes or eye infection but critical conditions asking for eye surgery need expert hands of an ophthalmologist. 

In a lot of cases, it has been seen that an optometrist and ophthalmologist work mutually as a team. This mutual relationship is called co-management. In co-management, an optometrist ensures to diagnose patients, provide them with solutions, and refer them to an ophthalmologist for a definite and corrective treatment plan. Your further complications and surgeries are dealt with by an ophthalmologist. Once you are done with the surgery, the ophthalmologist sends you back to the optometrist who monitors and checks your health as well as provides you with post-operative measures. 

Generally, co-management works wonders for both patients and doctors. Hence, it has been prevalent in various eye care hospitals. However, if you still believe that visiting a primary eye doctor or optometrist is not needed and you need expert help then you should go for an ophthalmologist. 

How Can I Find the Right Doctor?

The answer is simple; carry out thorough research. You can search on the internet, look for the credentials of doctors, go through the various range of services, read testimonials by patients, and ask your friends and family. 

If you are looking for a eye care physician in Charleston, we are here to help you out! At Jackson Davenport, we provide you with complete eye care solutions. From examining your eye, diagnosing eye conditions, and prescribing you suitable eyeglasses or contact lenses, we do it all. Moreover, our unique eyewear collection can fit comfortably and help you create your own style. You can visit us here for more details. 

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