Optometry and Ophthalmology: What’s The Difference?

eye specialist

eye specialistWhen dabbling in the realm of eye specialists, you may have heard three distinct but similar-sounding titles: optician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist. What makes these eye specialists different? Who should you go to for eye care and who for eye wear? Let’s break it down.


An optometrist is a healthcare professional who usually has a doctorate in optometry (O.D.). Typically an optometrist is who performs routine eye exams and vision care. This includes refraction and dispensing, taking care of mild visual conditions, prescribing some medications, and detecting diseases. Optometrists can specialize in an age group, or more likely see patients of any age. Nearsightedness often appears in children ages 8-12 and progresses from there until around age 20, so many parents bring nearsighted children or those with other vision problems to optometrists who have experience with child patients. Basically, think of them like your primary care doctor for your eyes and visual system.


An ophthalmologist typically has the education to do everything an optometrist can do, but they also build of off it. An ophthalmologist a medical doctor (M.D.) who did an extra 4-5 years specialization in vision after medical school and residency. Unlike optometrists, an ophthalmologist can often perform eye surgical procedures, diagnose more complex diseases, and prescribe a wider variety of medications and treatments for vision ailments. Some conduct research at hospitals and universities.


An optician is someone trained in fitting glasses and making lenses for those glasses. When you receive a vision prescription from your optometrist and visit an optical shop, an optician is the one who helps you choose frames, makes your unique lenses, fits them together, and sends you home happy. An optician typically only needs a year or two of schooling resulting in an associate’s degree or certificate in opticianry. They are skilled in measuring your face and figuring out the various shapes and distances needed to determine the best possible glasses match for you. They’re your stylists and glasses guardians.

Does the difference seem clearer now? Basically, see an optometrist for your vision check-ups and they’ll refer you on to an optician for glasses or an ophthalmologist for more serious testing and treatment. At Optyx, our skilled opticians work hard to match you with the most beautiful, well-fit frames. Talk to us if you have any more questions about opticianry and your vision.

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