What is the difference between an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and optician? I get asked this question frequently from my patients, friends, and family. Most people don’t understand the difference between these titles, including those in the healthcare industry. Hopefully, the explanation below will give you clarity!
Optician: (ABO Certified) able to design, fit, and dispense corrective lenses following a prescription written by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Ideal person to help patients select the best eyewear. Opticians also make adjustments and repairs to glasses as well as educate patients about eyewear
Optometrist: (OD degree aka Doctor of Optometry) are the primary health care professionals for the eye. Examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures, as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. May perform minor surgery and are trained in optician duties
Ophthalmologist: (MD degree aka Medical Doctor) same definition as above including MAJOR SURGERY
Generally, your optometrist will be your primary care eye doctor. After your comprehensive exam is complete, you’ll go to the optician to get your glasses (opticians and optometrists tend to be in the same office)
If your optometrist notices something that needs further evaluation or treatment out of their scope of practice, they will refer you to the appropriate ophthalmologist for specialized care
Welcome to your eye care team!