Which Eye Care Professional To Choose: Ophthalmologist, Optometrist or Optician?

There is a question about eye care professionals that our staff receives frequently. It is a question that is hugely significant when scheduling an eye appointment at Community Eye Center.

“What’re the differences between ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians?”

We are always happy to address this concern for patients because it streamlines their visit by providing them with eye care that suits their individual eye needs. Whether a patient requires a comprehensive eye exam, eyeglasses, or is seeking treatment for a more complex eye condition, Community Eye Center’s goal is to offer expedient care and direct patients to the best eye care provider for their needs.

While there is some overlap in the services provided, the levels of training and expertise are unique to each type of provider. To alleviate confusion, here is a glimpse at the different care that each of these providers offers:

Ophthalmologist

Often, the term “eye doctor” is used as a universal term to describe ophthalmologists and optometrists. The use of this name is accurate because they are both doctors who concentrated in eye care. However, there are differences in the level of training and what ophthalmologists or optometrists can diagnose and treat.

The critical distinction between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist is that an ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor (MD or DO) who specializes in eye and vision care.

As a doctor of medicine, who has completed school and a minimum of eight years of medical training, ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat any eye condition or disease, perform eye surgery and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses for vision correction. Ophthalmologists are qualified to care for all eye conditions and diseases.

Ophthalmologists are often also involved in scientific research about the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders. Some ophthalmologists may also choose to specialize in a specific area of their medical training or surgical eye care. These subspecialties require additional fellowship training. Subspecialties of ophthalmology may include glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, and plastic surgery. This extensive training is to prepare ophthalmologists to care for more complex cases in specific areas of the eye.

Optometrist

Optometrists are licensed to practice optometry, but are not medical doctors and do not perform eye surgery. Optometrists hold a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college.

Optometrists are doctors who provide care ranging from comprehensive eye examinations and vision correction with the fitting of glasses and contact lenses to diagnosis and management of ocular diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, pre and post-operative care for surgical patients, and dry eye evaluations.

Optician

Opticians are technicians who receive training to design and fit eyeglass lenses, frames and contacts as well as other vision correcting devices. They may use prescriptions which are provided by ophthalmologists or optometrists but cannot test vision or write prescriptions for vision correction. Opticians cannot diagnose or treat eye conditions or diseases.

If you would like more information about the eye care providers at Community Eye Center, Schedule an appointment with one of Community Eye Center. You may also call Community Eye Center at +1-941-625-1325 for information or to schedule an appointment.


For over 30 years, Community Eye Center (CEC) and its eye doctors have provided excellence in eye care from multiple south-west Florida locations, eye only surgery center, and optical services. CEC offers total eye care including cataract surgery, dry eye treatment, treatment of macular degeneration and all other retinal diseases, glaucoma treatment, diabetic eye exams, eyelid & cosmetic surgery, comprehensive eye exams, contact lenses & glasses, and 24/7 emergency eye care. Selecting only the most qualified and dedicated eye health professionals (board-certified ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, eye surgeons, oculoplastic specialists, cataract specialists, and more), CEC offers comprehensive and expedient care.

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