What is the Difference Between Optometry and Ophthalmology?

Many people are confused about the differences between optometry and ophthalmology. Though they both deal with eye care, there are several common misconceptions between the two. Ophthalmologists and optometrists both play an important role in providing eye care but their levels of training and expertise are quite different.

Optometrists are eye care professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. They receive a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by at least three years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

While ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions, some specialize in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. This type of ophthalmologist is called a subspecialist. They usually complete one or two years of additional, more in-depth training called a fellowship in one of the main subspecialty areas such as glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, as well as others. This added training and knowledge prepares an ophthalmologist to take care of more complex or specific conditions in certain areas of the eye or in certain groups of patients.

Your sight depends on seeing the right eye doctor at the right time so it’s important to know the difference between eye professionals. To learn more about the differences between optometry and ophthalmology or to schedule a vision appointment in Medford, contact Medical Eye Center at 541-779-4711 or www.medicaleyecenter.com.

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