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The Three O's of Eye Care: Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, and Optician

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The Three O's of Eye Care: Ophthalmologist, Optometrist and Optician



Knowing the difference between the various specialties in the eye care industry can be confusing, especially given the fact that they all start with the same letter and in many ways sound alike. I therefore thought I’d break down the different monikers to make life a little less confusing for those wanting to get an eye exam.


Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists (pronounced “OFF-thal-mologist”) are eye doctors who went to four years of undergraduate university, four years of medical school and four to five years of ophthalmic residency training in the medical and surgical treatment of eye disease.   Many ophthalmologists then go on to pursue sub-specialty fellowships which can be an additional one to three years in areas such as cataract and refractive surgery, cornea and external disease, retina, oculoplastic surgery, pediatrics, and neuro-ophthalmology.  Ophthalmologists are licensed to perform eye surgery, treat eye diseases with eye drops or oral medications, and prescribe glasses and contact lenses.



Optometrists

Optometrists are eye doctors who went to undergraduate university for four years, then went on to optometry school for four years. Many optometrists choose to pursue an additional year of residency after optometry school, though this is not a requirement for licensure. Optometrists are licensed in the medical treatment and management of eye disease, and prescribing glasses and contact lenses. In some states, optometrists can perform certain minimally invasive laser surgical procedures, but on the whole, optometrists do not perform eye surgery. In addition, optometrists usually have different sub-specialties than ophthalmology, including vision therapy, specialty contact lenses, and low vision. The analogy I use most often in comparing optometrists to ophthalmologists is that of a dentist and oral surgeon. Many people choose to have optometrists as their primary eye care provider and to undergo medical treatment of eye disease, but when surgery is needed, they are referred to the proper ophthalmologist.



Opticians

Opticians specialize in the fitting, adjustment, and measuring of eye glasses. Some states require that opticians are licensed, and others do not. Here, in New Jersey, opticians are required to be licensed in order to measure patients for eye glasses.

Here are Shore Eye Associates we are fortunate in that we complete the triumvirate with all three of the above mentioned specialties on staff. If you have any questions about which is the right fit for your needs, our friendly staff would be happy to answer any questions you have. 

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Wednesday, 01 December 2021

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