Choosing an Eye Doctor (cont.)

What Is an Optometrist?

Optometrists are eye doctors of optometry (OD). They are trained to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage some diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system. The optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education and four years of professional education at an accredited college of optometry. In addition, some optometrists may have completed a one-year optional residency in a specialized area. Optometrists have not attended medical school.

Like ophthalmologists, optometrists are trained to examine the internal and external structure of the eyes to detect diseases such as glaucoma , retinal detachment , and cataracts . Optometrists do not perform eye surgery and are not trained to care for and manage all diseases and disorders of the eyes. The optometrist is trained to diagnose and treat vision conditions such as nearsightedness , farsightedness , astigmatism , and presbyopia . They may also test a person's ability to focus and coordinate the eyes and see depth and colors accurately. Optometrists are licensed by states to examine the eyes to determine the presence of vision problems and visual acuity, prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye exercises, low vision aids, vision therapy, and medications to treat eye diseases.

What Is an Optician?

Opticians are eye healthcare professionals who work with ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide vision services related to the diagnosis and treatment of vision problems and eye disease. They assist optometrists and ophthalmologists in providing complete patient care before, during, and after exams, procedures, and surgeries. With a two-year technical degree, opticians analyze and interpret eye prescriptions; determine the lenses that best meet a persons needs; oversee ordering and verification of eye-related products from start to finish; dispense, replace, adjust, repair, and reproduce previously ordered contact lenses, eyeglasses, and frames.

Eye health is the result of a working partnership between you and your eye healthcare provider. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians work collectively and with the patient to ensure good eye health and life-long vision. You should visit your eye doctor - either an optometrist or ophthalmologist -- for an eye exam at least once a year.

Choosing an Eye Doctor or Eye Specialist

Because sight is so important, be proactive in the care of your eyes. Chose a qualified eye doctor -- one that has the right training and experience, can give proper diagnosis and treatment, is informative, promotes the best possible results, and shows genuine care for the health of his or her patients.