Ophthalmologist vs Optometrist

Ophthalmologist VS Optometrist

Distinguishing Between An Ophthalmologist And Optometrist

An ophthalmologist and optometrist both are specialized in the field of curing eye-related problems. It is crucial to understand your eye condition and seek suitable medical treatment from the cornered person.



Optometrists are the professionals who provide primary vision care. The tasks that they perform ranges from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision fluctuations. An optometrist cannot be regarded as a medical doctor. They are referred to as a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after the completion of four years of their optometry school, preceded by three years of college. Optometrists have a license to practice optometry that mainly involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing medications for particular eye diseases.

Optometrists are not licensed, medical doctors. Some of the optometrists and optometric organizations are trying to seek “full patient-care”. For this, they are demanding the right to perform surgery, treat an eye disease, prescribe drugs. But this demand has been vigorously criticized by physicians and many legislators and public-interest groups. The opposition might be based on the inadequate training of the optometrists, lack of public accountability and standards when compared with those having long experience in medicine and ophthalmology.

Keeping professional authority matched by professional capability will favour public interest. Training, supervised experience, and evaluation and testing performed by instruments – all should be considered equivalent while examining the professional capability. The protection of the patients should always be the centre of focus. People are entitled to the most compatible medical professionals possessing appropriate training and who have demonstrated competence with validated results in a formal manner.



An ophthalmologist can be called a medical doctor who has a specialization in the array of “eye and vision care”. Ophthalmologists are different from optometrists in their level of education, training, and in what they diagnose and treat. An ophthalmologist has to complete his college and at least 8 years of additional medical training before being awarded a license to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist is the one who diagnoses and treats all eye diseases. He performs eye surgery and also prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

Usually, ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions. But there is an option to specialize in a specific area of medicine or surgical eye care. Ophthalmologists falling in this category are called subspecialists. Also, they have to complete one or two years of in-depth training called a fellowship in one or two of the principal subspecialty areas such as glaucoma, retina, cornea, paediatrics, etc. This additional training and knowledge prepare an ophthalmologist for taking care of more complex or specific illnesses/ conditions in particular areas of the eye or certain groups of patients. For taking good care of your vision you have to opt for the most suitable eye specialist between ophthalmologist and optometrist.

Educational And Training: Ophthalmologists vs Optometrists

  1. Admissions – Optometry schools do not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree for admission. Only the other hand medical school require a bachelor’s degree. Applicants are mandated to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), which covers subjects like college-level maths, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, and physics.

2. Curriculum – An Optometry school’s four-year curriculum includes optics, contact lenses, vision therapy, vision sciences, sensory processing, practice management, and courses related to basic medical sciences and eye illnesses. Laboratory and instruction on ocular diseases are also included in the curriculum. The medical school’s curriculum, on the other hand, is four years long and concentrates on the fundamental principles of medicine and its scientific concepts. Anatomy, biochemistry, genetics, physiology, microbiology and immunology, pathology and preventive medicine, etc.

3. Disease Training: Optometrists receive no clinical training. On the other hand, medical students participate in two long years of patient care rotations through various specialities. They gain direct experience in managing patients in all aspects of medicine. Apart from this, ophthalmologists also have to complete a year of general medical, pediatric, or surgical internship.

4. Post-graduate Training: In optometry, postgraduate training is not mandatory. On the contrary, to become an ophthalmologist one-year training program in general medical, pediatric, or surgical internship is required.

5. Clinical Experience: Concerning the minimum requirements for the number of visits with patients who have an ocular disease, there are no accreditation criteria.

6. An Optometrist’s Exposure: to care for a broad spectrum of diseases is limited as most of the patients that visit optometry clinic do not have significant ocular diseases but rather seek glasses and/or contact lenses. Ophthalmologists, on the other hand, have a greater edge over clinical experience. As they are trained for treating many different eye diseases.

7. Continuing Education: Optometry does not trace out a set of competencies that are required for the training and practice of optometry in the community. Ophthalmology residency programs, on the other hand, mandates the residents to obtain competencies in several areas. A patient care, medical knowledge, professionalism, communication skills – are a few areas. Residency programs assess residents based on their performance in these competencies. And afterwards, use assessment results to improve their performance.

Seek The Right Professional: Ophthalmologist vs Optometrists

By the age of 40, there are high chances of developing an eye disease. In such a case visiting an ophthalmologist for an eye exam at regular intervals is a wise choice. In case you have an eye illness/disease make sure to visit your ophthalmologist. Here are some of the signs or risk factors for eye disease:

  • Formation of the bulge in one or both eyes.
  • Dark curtain-like or veil-like thing that blocks your normal vision.
  • Decrease/fluctuation in your vision.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Seeing double images.
  • Distorted vision.
  • Watery eyes or excessive tearing.
  • Any abnormalities in or around the eyelids.
  • In case of a family history of eye disease.
  • Halos (coloured circles around lights).
  • Loss of peripheral vision.

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The best way to treat your eyes is to visit your eye care professional and get your eyes checked regularly. He will be able to assess the best method of treatment for your eye ailment.

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