Who is Taking Care of Your Eyes?

Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician—know the difference.

Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians all play vital roles and often work together in keeping our eyes healthy. Though they may sound similar, each provides dramatically different services when it comes to eye and vision care.

The biggest difference? Education and clinical training.

When making eye care decisions, it’s important to understand what each provider is trained and licensed to do for you. For any chronic condition, for any vision threatening condition, for anything not responding to treatment, and certainly for any type of surgery, you should be seeing an ophthalmologist—a medical doctor and surgeon with the education, training and experience to care for complex eye conditions.

Ophthalmologist Avatar


  • Can provide full range of services, from annual vision exams and prescription of  glasses and contact lenses, to care of any medical or surgical eye condition

  • Recommended for medical eye conditions that are complex, chronic, or vision-threatening

  • Essential for conditions that require surgical treatment

  • Many subspecialize in treatment of Glaucoma, Retina, Oculoplastic, Pediatric, or Neuro-ophthalmology patients

  • Medical doctors with 8+ years of medical school, residency, and fellowship training

  • Licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery


  • Can provide basic vision care

  • Healthcare professionals with 4 years of training in optometry school

  • Licensed to perform routine eye exams and prescribe corrective lenses

  • Trained to detect eye abnormalities and prescribe medications for some eye diseases

  • Often work together with ophthalmologists as a part of an ophthalmologist-led eye care team

  • Refers patients to an ophthalmologist for diagnosis and treatment of complex eye conditions that require medical care or surgery


  • Helps you with choices in eyeglasses and making sure glasses fit well and are made correctly for your prescription

  • Certification programs and licensing available and required in some states

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