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What’s the Difference Between Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist?

Posted by Greg Mischio

Difference Between Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

Billy Crystal used to play a character named Fernando, and he once asked the question, “What is the difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist and an obstinate person?”  The question was good for a laugh, but it is often a source of confusion for people confused by the optometrist vs. ophthalmologist question. This post will help you understand the difference.

Ophthalmologist – MD: An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor who receives residency training and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease. In general, ophthalmologists use medical and surgical methods to treat eye diseases and vision disorders.

Optometrist – OD: Doctors of optometry (ODs) are the primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye.

An optometrist completes a pre-professional undergraduate education at a college or university and then completes four years of professional education at a college of optometry. Upon graduating, an optometrist can complete an optional one year residency for additional training in a specific area of practice.

Developmental Optometrist: A developmental optometrist treats functional vision problems, including difficulties with binocular vision, eye movements and depth perception, as well as visual deficits following brain injuries. These optometrists are skilled in the use of lenses, prisms and optometric vision therapy and provide vision care based on the principle that vision can be developed and changed.

We’re happy to recommend ophthalmologists for surgeries or care of specific eyes diseases, or general optometrists for general check-ups.  But if you want a complete exam of your entire visual system, we would suggest you first start with a Functional Vision Test performed by a developmental optometrist.

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Topics: Developmental Optometrist