Do you know who the vision professionals are that can take care of your vision needs? Who do you go to when your eye glasses brake? Who is best trained to fit you with contact lenses?
How do you know whether you require the services of an ophthalmologist, optometrist or an optician, maybe all three? Please note that the information below refers to the United States. Certification and scope of services vary from country to country due to different regulations.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (M.D.'s) who who provide total eye care including diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries. They provide eye exams, prescribe medication and perform eye surgery. They are the only eye care providers that are certified to perform eye surgery.
Ophthalmologists must have a college degree, graduate from medical school and have a one-year internship and at least 3 years residence as an ophthalmologist. In addition, they must pass a licensing exam.
Optometrists examine eyes to detect vision problems and diseases. They prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses and some medications for vision problems and certain eye diseases.
An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (OD). To become an optometrist, one must complete a minimum of 3 years of college or university and graduate from an accredited optometry school. Most optometrists also do residency. They must pass both a written and oral optometric board exam in order to be licensed. License renewal is required every three years in most states.
Opticians work with ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide eye related products and services relevant to the diagnosis and treatment.
They determine the best lenses to order according to prescription and a person's needs. Opticians handle many aspects of eye-related products, including ordering, replacing, repairing , fitting and reproducing lenses, eyeglass frames and contact lenses.
Opticians are usually licensed after completing a one to two year associate optician degree or after they have apprenticed for at least two years. Certification is awarded after passing a licensing examination that must be renewed every three years.
Licensing requirements may vary from state to state.