Differences Between Ophthalmology and Optometry

How can you tell if you need to see an ophthalmology expert or an optometrist? If you are having concerns with your eyes, you may be looking through the list of local eye centers and wondering where you should turn. Before you call and set up an appointment, make sure you are seeing the right professional for your concern. There is a distinct difference between the two fields of medicine.


When you need total eye care, it is time to seek out a doctor of ophthalmology. This person has not only attended medical school, but also has gone through internships and residency. If you have concerns about conditions like glaucoma, this is the person to see. Sometimes medical conditions can affect the eyes, and this doctor can help make recommendations for patients dealing with things like diabetes. Even if you have any trauma to this area of the body, you want to see an ophthalmologist.

While all of these concerns and conditions fall to this doctor, you can still come in for a routine eye exam and regular eye care services. In severe cases, eye surgeries can be performed by this doctor, including plastic surgery to help with a drooping eyelid or even excessive wrinkling around this area of the body.


Optometrists, while medical professionals, are not doctors. They have gone through a specific program after graduating from college that provides them with an additional degree in the field of optometry. If you need an eye exam or you are having trouble with your vision, this is the person to see. You can get a prescription for eyeglasses or contacts, and in some cases; you can get a prescription for different eye medicines as needed. Those that are nearsighted, farsighted, and struggling with astigmatism can find the help they need here.

On the other hand, it is possible for an optometrist to diagnose conditions like glaucoma or cataracts. Once the diagnosis has been made, patients can then be referred to a doctor of ophthalmology for treatment. After undergoing surgery, patients often see an optometrist for post-surgical care.

While both professionals offer help when it comes to eye care, they do have very different specialties. It is not uncommon for the two to work together to care for and treat a patient’s condition. If you still have questions about which person you should see, you have several options. You can contact your health insurance company to find out if you have coverage and which office you should make an appointment with. You can also call the office of an ophthalmologist or the office of an optometrist and explain what type of assistance you are looking for. Either one will direct you to the proper office for care.

Source by Anna Woodward

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