Eye Doctor Definitions: What are Opticians, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists?
An optician is not an eye doctor, but in some states they must complete training and be licensed. Most opticians sell and fit eyeglasses, sunglasses, and specialty eyewear that are made to an optometrist’s or ophthalmologist’s prescription. In some states opticians can become certified, after special training, to fit contact lenses.
An ophthalmologist (MD) is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in the eye. They perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medication, and perform surgery. Most opthalmologist specializes in one segment of the eye or eye diseases. Ophthalmologists complete four years of medical school, one year of internship, and a minimum of three years of residency in ophthalmology.
An optometrist (OD) is an eye doctor who examines eyes for both vision and health problems, and corrects refractive error by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists diagnose and treat eye problems and diseases, and prescribe many ophthalmic medications and may participate in your pre- and postoperative care if you have eye surgery. Some optometrists provide low vision rehabilitation and vision therapy. An optometrist must complete four years of college, and a four years of post-graduate optometry school, and some complete a residency with advanced study in a specific area of eye care.