Getting the Right Eye Care: Knowing the Difference Between Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians
Eye care should be a top priority for all of us. Even if we have never experienced any problems with our eyes and we feel that they are healthy and we enjoy excellent vision, we should still have regular eye examinations to keep a check on them and quickly address any problems that could arise. But even more so, if we have experienced eye problems in the past, or there is a history of eye problems in our family, we should be diligent in keeping up with our eye exams. When it comes to our eyes though, we hear of different job roles and may wonder, “Who is the best person to arrange an appointment with? Optometrists, ophthalmologists or opticians? To answer this question, it would be helpful to know what the difference is and what each role covers.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors. They have trained for a very long time to qualify for this role. They are the most likely to perform any surgical procedures on the eyes, especially when the surgical procedure is serious or complex. Due to them being the only ones who can perform such surgeries, most of their job role is spent on this and so when you initially have a problem with your eyes or you want regular check ups on them, it would not be an ophthalmologist who you would see for an initial appointment. You will likely be referred to one once a condition has been diagnosed or a problem has been detected.
What then, of an optometrist? Again, they have had years of training for their role, however not to the same extent as an ophthalmologist. But because they too are very knowledgeable, sometimes their roles can overlap. Although not the main part of their job, they too can sometimes perform surgeries, usually the more basic or common ones. So, what else do they do? They are also involved in many aspects of eye care. They can perform routine eye exams; they can prescribe treatments for eye conditions, and it is them who will give you your glasses or contact lens prescription should you need any.
So where does an optician fit into all this? An optician is usually the first person you will speak to when you go into a vision care store on the high street, or if you are popping along to your local optometrist’s office. While they do receive training in eye care, it is not anything like the years of training required for the other roles. They may take care of some of the more routine aspects of eye care, but they are not qualified to deal with any problems or illnesses involving the eyes. And they can offer great advice when choosing glasses frames to suit you.
Whatever needs you have with your eyes, there is someone who can help. So, make sure you maintain regular appointments and look after your eyes.