Difference Between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist

By: | Updated: Jul-20, 2021

Not all doctors are responsible for curing diseases. Some of them are responsible for diagnosing and treating certain diseases. This job involves looking at the inner part of a patient’s eye and checking their vision to determine if they are suffering from some type of eye disease or not. The patient can then be referred to an orthoptist or an ophthalmologist who specializes in disorders of the eye.

The doctor who is trained in this field will look at the inner part of a patient’s eye closely to determine if he or she is suffering from any type of eye disease. This is done to determine if the patient needs to be referred for treatment. The doctor will also check the patient’s eyes for signs of any health problems that may be affecting their vision.

Summary Table

Optometrist Ophthalmologist
Optometrist deals with eye problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, etc. Ophthalmologists deal with diseases of the eye like glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, etc., but not limited to these specific diseases.
Optometrists can work in any field that involves vision and eyewear and deal with a variety of eye diseases Ophthalmologists can only work in hospitals and deal with medical conditions like cataract, glaucoma, etc., which affect the eyes only
You will need to complete a four-year program in an accredited college or university You will need to complete a four-year program in an accredited college or university as well as completing three years of residency training

Definitions:

Difference Between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist

The doctor who specializes in this field should have medical knowledge and special training that will help him or her identify any diseases that could affect the eye or vision. The doctor’s job also involves recommending procedures that can be used to maintain or improve a patient’s vision. When a patient has eye problems, the doctor will determine the best method for treatment.

But what is the difference between an optometrist and ophthalmologist? Are they similar or are they different? Can you identify the difference between them based on their appearance? If you are curious to know, this article will explain the differences between optometrist and ophthalmologist.

Before we move on to the difference between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist, let us first learn what are the two. Let’s take a look at the definitions, the similarities, and the features of these two types of medical professionals.

Definition of Optometrist

An optometrist is a medical professional who practices the field of optometry. He/she is responsible for ensuring that his/her patients are seeing the best possible eye care and are getting the right prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists also offer a wide range of services, including eye exams, vision therapy, and refractive surgery. In order to become an optometrist, one must first complete an undergraduate degree in science or optometry from an accredited college or university. Then, he/she must take board certification exams before being allowed to practice as an optometrist. In order to become board certified in the state where he/she plans to practice, one must have taken at least three additional exams on eye health, prescribing glasses and contact lenses for adults and children respectively. He/she may also be required to have completed four years of full-time clinical experience as well as passed an exam on clinical skills before being allowed to practice as an optometrist.

Definition of Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye. They are specialists in diseases that affect the visual system, including the retina, macula, and optic nerve. Ophthalmologists are also involved in performing surgical procedures on the eye. They also perform some surgeries that affect the eyes such as cataract surgery and removal of glaucoma medications. They also conduct research on vision and eye disorders.

Similarities Between Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

The professionals are similar in many ways. Here are the similarities between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist:

  1. Both are the medical professionals who diagnose and treat vision problems.
  2. Both are the medical professionals who deal with diseases of the eye and other parts of the body that affect vision.
  3. Both are trained to do a comprehensive examination of eyes and related systems in the body.
  4. Both have graduated from an approved school or college, and passed a board exam before practicing medicine in their respective fields.

Difference Between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist

Now that we know what these two types of medical professionals have in common, let us now take a look at what makes them different from each other:

  1. What they deal with

Optometrist deals with eye problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, etc., whereas Ophthalmologist deals with diseases of the eye like glaucoma, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, etc., but not limited to these specific diseases.

Optometrists deal with treatment for presbyopia, which is basically age-related decline in vision associated with loss of accommodation for near objects, whereas Ophthalmologists deal with treatment for ocular diseases like cataract, macular degeneration, glaucoma, etc.

  1. Which one is more common?

Optometrists are much more common than Ophthalmologists. According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Optometry, approximately 80% of Americans have a family history of eye disease. This means that 80% of the population will have a chance to deal with eye problems at some point in their lives. On the other hand, Ophthalmologists are relatively rarer than Optometrists, as only 3% of Americans are referred to an ophthalmologist for an eye disease or condition.

  1. Where they work

Optometrists can work in any field that involves vision and eyewear and deal with a variety of eye diseases, whereas Ophthalmologists can only work in hospitals and deal with medical conditions like cataract, glaucoma, etc., which affects the eyes only.

  1. How they deal with patients

Optometrists have to diagnose eye diseases and recommend the best treatment for the patient, whereas Ophthalmologists can only prescribe the best treatment for the patient and have less or different knowledge of eye diseases.

  1. Their education requirements

To become an Optometrist, you will need to complete a four-year program in an accredited college or university, whereas to become an Ophthalmologist, you will need to complete a four-year program in an accredited college or university as well as completing three years of residency training. However, both these educational programs are highly respected by their respective medical associations and offer excellent career opportunities.

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