Understanding Optometrists

Posted on: 23 February 2017

When it comes to diseases or problems with your eyes, there are several professionals you can see. Whereas you may be aware of opticians, you probably have not heard of the word "optometrist" – yet you have probably used their services. The following information will help you understand more about the profession.

Who is an Optometrist?

If a doctor has earned the Doctor of Optometry degree, that makes them an optometrist.  Please note that an optometrist is not a medical doctor. Optometrists are licensed to practice optometry. Optometry is primarily performance of eye exams and vision tests.

What do they do?

Optometrists diagnose, examine, treat, and manage disorders, injuries, and diseases of the visual system and its associated structures. Some of the duties of optometrists include the following:

  • Provide low vision rehabilitation, medication, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and vision therapy.
  • Diagnose and treat different eye diseases.
  • Counsel patients with regard to surgical and non-surgical options that meet the patient's visual needs related to their lifestyle, occupation, and avocations.
  • Identify general health problems manifested in the eye – such as diabetes.
  • Work with athletes to improve their eye/hand coordination.
  • Care for people with artificial eyes.
  • Remove foreign bodies from your eyes.
  • Participate in both pre and post-operative care if eye surgery is conducted by an ophthalmologist.

Comparison with Related Professionals

Some of the related professionals include opticians and ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist is a doctor that specializes in vision and eye care. These professionals differ from others such as optometrists and opticians in terms of their levels of training – and what they can treat and diagnose. Ophthalmologists are permitted to practice both medicine and surgery.

An optician is a technician skilled in designing, testing, and fitting contact lenses, eyeglasses and frames, and other tools used in correcting sight. Opticians use prescriptions provided by ophthalmologists. Opticians do not and are not qualified to write prescriptions or test visions. In addition, they are not qualified to diagnose common eye diseases.

Seeking Help from the Right Professional

Now that you know the difference in these professionals, you should see the right professional to get the required care depending on your visual needs. If you want a complete eye check-up, you should see an ophthalmologist. On the other hand, an optometrist can also provide you with primary eye care, as well as diagnose and treat certain eye diseases. However, optometrists have limitations – such as conducting eye surgery. An optician should serve you based on prescriptions provided by either an ophthalmologist or optometrist.