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Who's Who at the Eye Doctor's Office?

Ophthalmologist, optometrist, optician: All you want is good eye health, but somehow your trip to the doctor just got confusing with three different options for your eye care professional.

Here’s a quick guide to figuring out just who’s who at the eye doctor’s office.

What Is an Optometrist?

Optometrists are doctors who have completed a Doctor of Optometry degree. In terms of eye care, they are the general practitioners of eye health providing primary vision care. They can give eye exams and write prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses and other optical aids. Depending on what state you live in, optometrists may also be licensed to treat certain eye diseases and conditions. They don’t actually perform surgery, but if you do have a surgical procedure, optometrists will often oversee your pre- and post-operative care.

What Is an Ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors or osteopathic doctors who specialize in eye care. Ophthalmologists not only give eye exams andwrite prescriptions for corrective lenses or contact lenses, they are also qualified to diagnose and treat eye diseases. And unlike optometrists, ophthalmologists are licensed to prescribe medicine and perform eye surgery. So if you have a vision problem that requires surgery, you’ll want to consult with an ophthalmologist.

What is an Optician?

Opticians play a vital role in maintaining your healthy vision. Opticians take all those prescriptions given out by ophthalmologists and optometrists and use them to fit you for lenses, frames, and contact lenses. In addition, they may also dispense low vision aids and artificial eyes. If you need corrective lenses to treat impaired vision, the optician will help you to see just how cool those new glasses actually look. However, Opticians do not diagnose or treat eye diseases.

Regardless of title, visiting an eye care professional is vital for your eye and overall health.