In the world of eye care, titles and overlap between roles can be very confusing to the average person. Understanding the three O's of eye care can help you understand where each fits into your life and eye care needs.
An Ophthalmologist is a Doctor of Medicine, an M.D., who is specialized in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from diagnosing and medically treating eye diseases, to complex and delicate eye surgeries. An ophthalmologist has completed four years of college, 4 years of medical school, and three years of residency. They may then spend additional years training in a subspecialty such as cornea, glaucoma, cataract, or retina.
An Optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry, an O.D., who is licensed to provide primary eye care services. Optometrists are health care professionals who diagnose and treat disorders of the eye and visual system through general exams. They prescribe glasses and contact lenses to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, they diagnose eye diseases such as infection, cataracts and glaucoma, and refer to ophthalmologists and other specialists when surgical or specialized treatment is needed. Optometrists do not perform surgery. An optometrist has completed four years of college, four years of education in a college of optometry, and some also do a residency.
An Optician is a master of lenses. They are given a written eyeglass or contact lens prescription by an MD or OD, and then work with you to find and fit your eyeglasses to your prescription. They are licensed by the state and requirements vary state to state. In general, most must attend college and have apprenticeship experience.
We at MEA are staffed with MDs and ODs. If you are unsure as to which you require, be sure to ask when scheduling your appointment.
Rebecca Mueller, OD