Optometrists Take a Look

Optician, Optometrist, Ophthalmologist?

The Differences Between Eye Doctors 

When you have a problem with your eyes, you may know you need to see an eye doctor, but do you need an appointment with an optician, an optometrist, or an ophthalmologist? You would be forgiven for thinking that they are all the same. Many people don't know the difference between different types of eye doctors, and confusion is common when you try to sort out which specialist you need. The difference is primarily in how much training and schooling each specialist has and what conditions they are qualified and equipped to handle. 


An optician is certified to fit or fix glasses and contacts, but not to test eyesight. They can't write prescriptions themselves and aren't certified to treat eye diseases. They generally work in an office together with an optometrist. Use an optician if you need your glasses refitted or repaired, or if you have basic questions about your eyewear. 


An optometrist is qualified to administer vision tests, prescribe contacts and glasses, and handle some eye diseases, such as glaucoma. They can write prescriptions and handle the primary care of your eyes. Use an optometrist for your yearly eye check-up and for natural changes in your vision. 


Ophthalmologists are medical doctors with around 12 years of post-secondary schooling. They are certified to take care of all aspects of eye health and perform eye surgery. They are trained to handle a long list of eye diseases as well as test vision and prescribe eyewear. Use an ophthalmologist if you have a serious eye condition, need eye surgery, or have a rare eye disease. 

Why might I need an ophthalmologist?

On top of being qualified to do everything an optician or optometrist can do, ophthalmologists often specialize in specific conditions or diseases. They can even notice and help diagnose other medical problems. An ophthalmologist with a specialty in glaucoma, retinas, or neurology (or in any eye part, disease, or procedure) can offer you the best care for your problems because of their training. 

What will an appointment look like? 

An appointment with an ophthalmologist will seem pretty much the same as an appointment with an optometrist unless you have an appointment for a specific procedure or problem. The doctor will look at your medical history, test your vision, test your eye pressure, and may dilate your eyes to get a look at the back of them. 

There you go, eye doctors in a nutshell! You can also contact an eye professional to find more information.