Optometrists, Opticians & Ophthalmologists - What is the difference?


All three types of eyecare providers have a job title beginning with "O" - so what is the difference between them?

  • Optometrists - After three or more years of scientific undergraduate university studies followed by four years of Optometry courses, Optometrists are doctors who perform eye examinations and can also fit & sell glasses and contact lenses.  During an eye exam, Optometrists issue prescriptions needed for corrective eyewear and diagnose eye conditions.  Some Optometrists such as Dr. Sonya Frank can write prescriptions to treat certain eye problems like glaucoma, pink eye and allergies.  Optometrists are first-line eyecare providers and so are the ones who provide the majority of eyecare.


  • Opticians - After attending two years of College (which can be fast-tracked to six months), Opticians are licensed to fit and sell glasses.  Opticians can also sell contact lenses, and some are licensed to fit contacts as well.


  • Ophthalmologists - After three or more years of undergraduate university studies then a four year course of medical doctor training followed by a residency in eye disease, Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat eye diseases and can perform surgical procedures.  Ophthalmologists usually specialize in a certain eye problem such as glaucoma, neuro-ophthalmology, or retinal disease, but many will perform cataract surgeries as well.  Ophthalmologists are second- or third-line eyecare providers who you see when a major eye problem has been found and you remain under their care until the problem has been treated or is under control, at which point you return to your Optometrist for routine care.


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