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Optometrists and Ophthalmologists: A Few Key Differences

The two titles of “ophthalmologist” and “optometrist” can turn out to be pretty confusing terms for many people. However, there are certain crucial differences as well as similarities between the two.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) who has specialized in eye care. They would have completed at least four years of undergraduate study, and then subsequently completed four additional years of medical school successfully. After that, the good doctor has to spend a bare minimum of four years of residency, which is hospital-based training under senior ophthalmologists.

On the other hand, an optometrist typically possesses a degree of ‘Doctor of Optometry’. After the mandatory completion of four years of undergraduate medical study, the optometrist should compulsorily attend at least four years of optometry school as well.


One should note that an optometrist basically specializes in the prescribing of eye glasses and contact lenses as corrective measures for any number of vision-related ailments. They can also help diagnose issues that might require vision therapy, low vision, as well as the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of various eye diseases.

An ophthalmologist, on the other hand, is a duly certified medical doctor who specializes in prescribing eye glasses as well as contact lenses. Apart from that, he will also be able to diagnose and treat various eye diseases via surgical methods as well.

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Both an optometrist as well as an ophthalmologist can easily diagnose and treat certain eye conditions and illnesses.  Furthermore, they can also prescribe a wide variety of drugs and medicines to treat certain eye disorders. These may include a rare condition known as “pink eye”, different eye-related allergies, and glaucoma. As a matter of fact, treatments for all of these can easily be prescribed by both optometrists and ophthalmologists.

However, one crucial point of difference between the two is that an ophthalmologist is actually trained to perform corrective eye surgery. Whether it is a full-fledged eye surgery to be performed in a tertiary level hospital or a surgeon’s office, it is important to remember that it is only an ophthalmologist who would be duly qualified to perform such a surgery.

The other major difference is that the vast majority of optometrists tend to believe that the human body’s visual organs are an entirely dynamic system.

What this means in medical parlance is that the brain has a certain amount of elasticity and therefore, it can be retrained as well. This is the part where Personal Eyes Optometrists come into the picture with their recommendations for many non-surgical eye care alternatives.

However, many ophthalmologists tend to see it as purely a static system per se.  This is why they tend to rely on surgery a whole lot more.

Whatever the case may be, it is important to have your eyes checked from a skilled and qualified eye specialist at least once a year.

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