I don’t blame you! This is confusing for many people. How do we know who to go to and why? Let me help you distinguish the difference between an Optometrist, an Optician, and an Ophthalmologist.
We love this one by the way…it makes us giggle. If you have mistakenly used this word, you will know. Most likely you are receiving a confused facial expression from anyone whom works in the optical industry. Obstetricians are physicians who have successfully completed specialized education and training in the management of pregnancy, labor, and puerperium (the time-period directly following childbirth). We do hear this more often than you think.
Visiting an Optometrist is always the first step. Most people know that Optometrists provide a prescription for eyeglasses or contacts to correct farsightedness, nearsighteness and presbiopia. What people don’t always realize is that Optometrists also diagnose and prescribe medication to treat ocular health conditions including conjunctivitis (pink eye), dry eyes, bumps on the lid (sty’s) and foreign bodies in the eye. Other ocular diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal disorders as well as systemic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes, are diagnosed, managed and treated by Optometrists.
Ophthalmologists are secondary healthcare providers and patients usually require a referral from their Optometrist to obtain an appointment for medical or surgical treatment. They typically do not provide refractions. Ophthalmologists tend to take care of any diseases or health issues pertaining to the eye.
Opticians are the ones who design, fit and dispense eyeglasses. Opticians are trained through a college program to fabricate and fit vision aids based on the prescription of a Doctor of Optometry or physician. Much can be done with a prescription from your OD. Often, Opticians will formulate and recommend the proper type of lenses for your lifestyle and what you will most benefit from. We say they are like the Pharmacists of the optical industry guiding you on what to do with your RX.