Choosing an Eye Doctor (cont.)

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.

What Should I Consider When Choosing an Eye Doctor?

When choosing an eye doctor to care for your eyes and sight, consider the person's qualifications, experience, services offered, and patient satisfaction.


Having a solid set of credentials is an encouraging sign of a good eye doctor or optician. Make sure that the eye doctor has the proper and adequate training to diagnose, treat, and prevent eye disease. This will help you decide which doctor can best serve your eye healthcare needs. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists should be certified through an accredited medical institution and be licensed to practice through the respective state board of optometry or state medical board. Ophthalmologists should, in addition, have internship and residential experience. Certificates and licensures should be displayed in conspicuous areas in their office. You may confirm their credentials through the appropriate state board prior to your visit.


Having experience is also important for an eye doctor. An optometrist or ophthalmologist who has more experience will probably be better able to detect eye disease and diagnose disorders simply because they have seen more patients. Another benefit of visiting an eye doctor with experience is the reassurance that they have maintained a practice of optometry or ophthalmology. Consumers are unforgiving to malpractice and bad service.

You may also want to know if your eye doctor participates in medical research or medical education. An eye doctor who participates in and is current with the latest research and education in the field is more knowledgeable about the latest techniques in diagnosing and treating eye disease and visual problems.

Services Offered

Choosing an eye doctor who is able to provide a wide range of services is beneficial, but you also should select your eye doctor by what services you need. One who provides fewer services may sometimes be able to provide more specialization with a service or with certain diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts. You should examine your eye healthcare needs to determine which type of eye doctor best suits you.

Patient Satisfaction

There is a cliche about "word of mouth" recommendations: They travel farther and faster than any form of paid advertising. Talk to your family, friends, and coworkers to learn about the eye doctors they like best. After you visit the eye doctor, determine if you were satisfied and comfortable with him or her. For example, did the eye doctor see you in a timely manner? Was the exam thorough? Did the eye doctor address all of your concerns and follow up with any possible complications or questions you had? Will you return? Will you recommend the eye doctor to others?

Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.

Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.

Last Editorial Review: 6/29/2005