Different Types of Eye Care Professionals

There are several different professionals who provide eye care services.

These services can be provided in hospitals, private eye care clinics, or in the health care providers office.

Ophthalmologists

An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and in the prevention of eye disease and injury.

An Ophthalmologist is qualified to treat conditions of the eye with medical, optical and surgical techniques. Sometimes, an ophthalmologist may have a particular specialty, such as:

  • disease of the cornea, retina and vitreous
  • glaucoma
  • eye problems in children
  • plastic surgery

However, an ophthalmologist may have a more generalized practice, and may be involved with testing vision and prescribing corrective eye wear or contact lenses, as an optometrist would.

Ophthalmologist and optometrists often work together in the care of patients. 

Optometrists

Doctors of optometry are primary health care professionals who examine, diagnose, treat, manage and help prevent diseases and disorders affecting the visual system, the eye and related structures. Optometrists also assist in diagnosing general health conditions.

Optometrists offer a wide range of primary eye care services including:

  • visual assessments
  • contact lens services
  • low-vision services
  • urgent and emergent assessments of red eyes, foreign bodies and other  visual symptoms
  • monitoring side effects associated with chronic systemic conditions 
  • assessment of ocular signs and symptoms of systemic medications with ocular side effects

Opticians

An optician is a technician who grinds, fits and dispenses corrective lenses based on the written prescription of an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Most optometry offices employ opticians.

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