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Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in eye care. Ophthalmology is a surgical subspecialty. Ophthalmologists are licensed by state medical boards to practice medicine and are usually board-certified in ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists are certified to:
Optometrists (ODs) have at least 3 years of undergraduate science work and may have a 4-year degree. They attend 4 years of optometric college. They are not medical doctors. Optometrists can:
Opticians are skilled technicians. They do not test vision, prescribe corrective lenses, or diagnose or treat eye diseases. Some states require completion of a 2-year training program or a 3-year apprenticeship for a license. Others have no formal requirements. Opticians can:
Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can diagnose refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, and prescribe corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses.
Ophthalmologists can diagnose all disorders that affect the eye. They can carry out any medical or surgical treatment.
In a few states, even where they are allowed to administer diagnostic drugs, optometrists are not allowed to diagnose or treat eye disease. They may observe signs of disease and refer you to an ophthalmologist.
On average, optometrists charge less for routine eye exams than ophthalmologists. You may also be able to get an appointment with an optometrist sooner than with an ophthalmologist. Optometrists are more likely than ophthalmologists to offer evening and weekend appointments.
Current as of:
June 6, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review BoardAll Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
Current as of: June 6, 2023
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
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