The two main types of eye doctors are optometrists and ophthalmologists, as stated by the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. A third specialist that most people see during an eye appointment is a technician called an optician. This person helps design and fit corrective lenses or contacts.
There are a number of reasons to see a doctor about the eyes, from getting corrective lenses to treatment for an eye disease. The reason for the appointment will determine which kind of doctor the patient sees.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists sometimes take additional training to focus on a sub-specialty, such as glaucoma, pediatrics, neurology or cosmetic surgery. These doctors can diagnose and treat eye diseases, perform surgery, do scientific research or just prescribe corrective lenses and contacts.
An optometrist is not a medical doctor but does have a doctor of optometry degree. Optometrists are the doctors that people usually go to for corrective lenses or contacts. They are able to provide sight testing and correction, diagnose vision changes and treat or manage those conditions. They can provide prescriptions for certain eye conditions. Patients with more severe eye problems are referred to an ophthalmologist.