You’re having trouble watching things. It might be a sudden discrepancy in your ability to see or a long-standing problem of deteriorating vision. So what is your first step? Of course, you’ll visit the doctor.
But when looking for an eye specialist, one common issue people experience is that they have to decide between getting yourself diagnosed with an optometrist vs ophthalmologist. But you can’t really understand which one to choose until you understand the issue.
So how do you choose which one to go to before finalizing on one specialist? Well, for that, you’d have to understand what the two specialize in. Only then would you get which one to choose. So here we discuss what the optometrist vs ophthalmologist means and which one you should go to.
Who is an Optometrist, and what does he do?
The difference between optometrist vs ophthalmologist is that an optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry(O.D.). A qualified optometrist must have an undergraduate degree, along with another 4-year degree in the field of Optometry. The primary role of an optometrist is to offer primary vision care.
An optometrist doesn’t learn about diseases and isn’t a medical doctor. Instead, his role is to test your eyesight, suggest correction lenses, and manage your vision changes. While an optometrist can prescribe mild medications and treatment for eye correction, he won’t be able to treat eye diseases.
In medical terms, the difference between an optometrist vs ophthalmologist is that an optometrist can be compared to a physician whom you’d visit to receive primary vision care. An optometrist is a master in carrying out basic as well as advanced Eye Care examinations.
An optometrist also gains full-time training of eye care for the final 1-2 years of the program. They study various case studies and history of patients to understand better what causes issues in eyesight and how they can correct them.
When should you visit an Optometrist?
You should visit optometrists for yearly eye examinations as well as to renew a Contact Lens or glass prescription. Apart from that, you’ll also have to visit an optometrist to prescribe for certain medications for several eye conditions that don’t require extensive medical treatment.
An optometrist will also help you with the following treatment procedures:
● They’ll provide you with eye health education as well as annual eye exams.
● They’ll prescribe you with modified eyeglasses, contact lenses as well as for other visual aids.
● They’ll help you with post-surgical eye care and treatment.
● They’ll help diagnose eye conditions related to weak and deteriorating eyesight.
● They can facilitate minor surgical procedures and such medical treatments.
Optometrists can also prescribe regulated medications for minor eye conditions that aren’t related to a disease. While it depends on the legislature in your jurisdiction, an optometrist also had the capability to perform minor surgeries.
Such procedures include performing laser eye surgeries, foreign body removals that can happen accidentally as well as other surgical interventions that might be suitable for them.
Who is an Ophthalmologist, and what do they do?
An ophthalmologist is a specialist in the eye and vision care. He is a medical practitioner for eye care and can make decisions regarding medical issues that might be causing a hindrance in vision. The major difference between ophthalmologists vs optometrist is in their training levels as well as what they can treat.
Ophthalmologists are medical practitioners who have completed eight years of medical training other than their regular undergraduate courses. These doctors are licensed to treat eye-related diseases as well as perform complicated surgeries.
While ophthalmologists can fix vision issues and correct contact lenses, they specialize in performing eye surgeries and treating eye diseases. Ophthalmologists are not just doctors who perform eye surgeries and treat eye diseases. They have the necessary expertise and play a role in conducting scientific research on the cures as well as causes of eye-related diseases.
Although ophthalmologists can treat all eye-related disorders and diseases, some of them specialize in specific fields of eye care treatments. Such a person is an eye MD and can be called a subspecialist.
They have taken special training in vision-related fields like Retina, Cornea, Glaucoma, neurology, a Paediatrics, and plastic surgery, among others. These specialists have completed a year or two of training in one or several of these fields.
This unique training enables an ophthalmologist to treat complex eye conditions related to particular issues with a specific area of the eye or the patterns in several eye patients.
When should you visit an ophthalmologist?
While you can visit an ophthalmologist for the same issues that you’d visit an optometrist, they’ll charge you a higher fee. If you don’t have a regular loss of vision and understand some diseases are behind your loss of eyesight, it’s better to visit an ophthalmologist among optometrist vs ophthalmologist.
Moreover, it is necessary to consult an ophthalmologist in case you need to undergo surgery for several conditions like Cataract, glaucoma, strabismus, and more. Here are the services you can expect to receive while visiting an ophthalmologist:
● Regular services provided by an optometrist, albeit at a higher cost
● Complete rehabilitation methods after an eye surgery
● Surgical treatments related to dye related conditions or issues
● For the treatment of eye-related medical conditions
Ophthalmologists attain a separate 12-month training to perform surgeries as well as treat specific conditions related to vision. Ophthalmologists are typically specialists and will perform best in their specialized areas of training other than providing primary eye care.
How to choose which one to visit?
Your final decision depends on a host of factors. Typically, a gradual loss of vision will be a sign that you’d need to visit an optometrist. If the condition can’t be fixed with an eyeglass or a lens or is beyond the understanding of your optometrist, they’ll direct you towards an ophthalmologist. You need to visit an optometrist for your routine eye checkup, but they’ll redirect you to a specialist ophthalmologist if they notice any abnormalities in your treatment.
Irrespective of who you choose to visit, it’s always a better option to see an eye care center or a specialist as soon as possible when you notice a discrepancy in your vision.