What Are Some Differences Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist?


Quick Answer

Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat eye conditions related to diabetes and arthritis, perform eye surgeries, and provide treatment for medical issues such as glaucoma and iritis, explains WebMD. Optometrists typically perform vision exams, treat vision issues such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, and prescribe eyeglass and contact lenses.

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Full Answer

Ophthalmologists attend medical school, then complete an internship and a residency program to provide medical care to patients, notes WebMD. Ophthalmologists can complete additional training to specialize in areas such as neuro-ophthalmology, pathology, cornea and refractive surgery, states MedicineNet. Organizations such as the American Board of Ophthalmology provide additional certification.

Optometrists typically earn an undergraduate degree, then a four-year advanced degree in optometry, according to WebMD. Optometrists do not attend medical school. With additional training, optometrists may specialize in areas such as family eye care, sports vision, geriatric optometry or pediatric optometry, explains MedicineNet.

Both ophthalmologists and optometrists must adhere to state medical licensing laws regarding the specific amount of training and scope of patient treatment, claims MedicineNet. For example, in some states, optometrists may provide medical treatment for eye conditions and diseases and prescribe oral medications.

Optometrists may assist ophthalmologists during surgical procedures to provide preoperative and postoperative care, states WebMD. As a result, ophthalmologists and optometrists often work together to treat patients.

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