Ophthalmologist Vs. Optometrist: How Are They Different?

Eye Specialist Machine

Searching for the right eye doctor can be a daunting task. You may be aware that there are various types of eye specialists. From optometrists and ophthalmologists to opticians, all are professional experts who specialize in eye care issues.

However, many people are confused when they have to choose between ophthalmologists and optometrists. They both might seem similar because they specialize in eye care, but they have several differences. They both play an important role in providing eye care services and solutions, but their levels of training and expertise are quite different.

Let’s see how both are different.

What Does an Optometrist Do?

A doctor that examines, diagnoses, and treats eye conditions is known as an optometrist. They are the primary eye care providers for routine eye issues.

Optometrists provide the following services:

  • Yearly or routine eye checkups
  • Diagnosis of various eye conditions
  • Medical treatment for minor surgical procedures
  • Post-surgical eye care
  • Prescription for contact lenses, glasses, and other visual aids

Although optometrists can prescribe medication for certain eye conditions, they’re not medical doctors. They’re only licensed to practice optometry which involves visual exams and eye tests, among other services mentioned above.


What Does an Ophthalmologist Do?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in eye care and surgical procedures.

Although you can visit the ophthalmologist for the same reasons as an optometrist, they’re licensed to perform eye surgeries for various eye diseases and conditions, including cataracts, glaucoma, and strabismus surgery, and many more.

They offer the following services:

  • Basic eye care and routine checkups
  • Medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions
  • Rehabilitation after major eye surgeries

As eyes are an extremely sensitive and fragile part of our body, ophthalmologists receive training for 12 years or more before they can perform major eye surgeries.  Surgery is an ophthalmologist’s primary scope of care and expertise.

Eye Surgery


One needs to be extremely cautious when it comes to eye care. Choosing the right specialist is of utmost importance. If you need minor and basic eye care, then going to an optometrist is the best option. However, if you’re suffering from any serious medical conditions, as mentioned above, then seeing an ophthalmologist is a wise move.

Both are medical experts in their area of training but serve different purposes for patients with eye care issues.

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