When it comes to eye care, there are many different types of providers that may have similar titles but very different types of education, training, and areas of expertise.
What is an Ophthalmologist?
Ophthalmologists, also known as Eye M.D.s, are Medical Doctors (M.D.) or Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.) who specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury. Before going into practice they have completed four or more years of college in a premedical curriculum, four or more years of medical school, one year of internship, and three or more years of specialized medical, surgical, and refractive training and experience in eye care.
Ophthalmologists can deliver total eye care including primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Specifically, ophthalmologists can provide vision services, contact lenses, eye examinations, medical eye care, surgical eye care, and diagnose and treat ocular manifestations of systemic diseases.
After completing 4 years of undergratuate study at a college or university, ophthalmologists attend 4 years of medical school to obtain an M.D. or D.O. degree. After graduation from medical school, they complete a 1-year internship and 3 years of training in ophthalmology in a residency program approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Following residency, ophthalmologists may enroll in a 1-to-2-year fellowship program. A fellowship offers the opportunity to develop expertise in a subspecialty such as:
- Cornea and external disease
- Retina and vitreous disease
- Pediatric Ophthalmology
- Oculoplastic and Orbital Surgery
What is an Optometrist?
An optometrist is a health care provider who is involved with vision problems only. Optometrists are specifically educated and trained by an accredited optometry college in a four-year course. Optometrists do not attend Medical School. They are state licensed to examine the eyes and determine the presence of vision problems. Optometrists determine visual acuity and prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, and eye exercises. Optometrists may perform all services listed under the definition of an optician. Most states have passed legislation that permits optometrists to give limited treatment of some eye conditions.
What is an Optician?
An optician is a professional technician who makes, verifies, delivers and fits lenses, frames, and specially fabricated optical devices and/or contact lenses under prescription to the intended wearer. The optician’s functions include prescription analysis and interpretation; determination of the lens forms best suited to the wearer’s needs; the preparation and delivery of work orders for the grinding of lenses and the fabrication of eyewear; the verification of the finished ophthalmic products; and the adjustment, replacement, repair, and reproduction of previously prepared ophthalmic lenses, frames and other specially fabricated ophthalmic devices.
What is an Orthoptist?
An orthoptist is a health care provider that specializes in the diagnosis and management of visual system disorders primarily involving binocular vision and eye movements. They commonly work in a pediatric ophthalmology setting.
What is an Ocularist?
Ocularists are professionals who specialize in the fabrication and fitting of custom ocular prosthetics (artificial eyes)