When it comes to eye care, it can be difficult to know which professional to visit. Should you go to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? The answer depends on the type of care you need. If you need primary medical eye care, such as prescribing eye medications, diagnosing and managing eye diseases, or emergency eye care services, then a medical optometrist is the best choice. Optometrists are also the go-to professionals for contact lens wearers.
On the other hand, if you require interventions such as surgical treatments for serious eye diseases, advanced eye problems, or refractive eye surgery, then an eye doctor is the right person to see. Eye doctors are also qualified to perform routine eye exams and prescription refills. It's important to note that opticians are not allowed to perform any eye exams or diagnose or treat any eye conditions. They can only help with fitting and dispensing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists and ophthalmologists overlap professionally in certain areas of service, such as eye exams and tests.
However, optometrists have limitations in terms of the surgeries they can perform, while ophthalmologists can perform each and every surgical procedure for which they are trained. From an accreditation perspective, an optometrist receives the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree upon completion of a bachelor's degree and four years in optometry school. On the other hand, an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or osteopath (DO) who specializes in eye health and vision care. When it comes to scheduling an appointment with an eye care professional, it's important to consider your needs and the type of care you require. If you're unsure which professional to visit, your optometrist can refer you to an ophthalmologist or consult you for the best possible care.