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Your sight depends on seeing the right eye doctor, so when it’s time to them checked be sure you are booking in with the right eye care specialist for your needs. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians all play an important role in providing top notch care for your eyes, but their level of training and expertise differs quite a bit from one another. Here’s a quick summary of all three types of eye care providers:

An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor who specialises in eye and vision care. An ophthalmologist differs from both optometrists and opticians because of their level of medical training and what they diagnose and treat. An ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery and along with completing college has an additional eight years of additional medical training under his or her belt. An ophthalmologist specialises in diagnosing and treating all eye diseases, performing simple to complex eye surgeries and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Many ophthalmologists also include scientific research as part of their professional practice in their desire to search for the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders.

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. It is very important to understand that an optometrist is not a medical doctor. Their degree is specifically as a doctor of optometry (OD) after completing four years of optometry school with an additional three or more years of college. Their role in your health care is primarily focused on performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting eye abnormalities and in prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.

Opticians are technicians who are trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They are not permitted to test vision or writer prescriptions nor are they permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases or disorders. Their role in eye care is to support opthalmologists and optometrists by providing patients with the treatments they have described for vision care. Opticians are not eye doctors.