I often get asked what is the difference between an Optician, Optometrist and Ophthalmologist? It can definitely get confusing as all three may be working under the same roof. The important thing to know is that when all three professions work in unison the patient is provided with the best care for their eyes.
An optician is an individual that went to through a College of Opticianry program and specializes in choosing the best glasses for you. You can find an optician helping make your newest prescription a reality by finding the right pair of glasses for you. Did you know that there are hundreds of different lenses on the market? Your lenses can vary in material, clarity, and design. This means that an optician can help make your lenses thinner, clearer and customized to your lifestyle. Moreover, they are the problem-solvers for any concerns with your glasses. They are also trained to make the glasses, and edge lenses into the frame. Opticians are also trained to help fit you with contact lenses. A proper fitting involves ensuring that not only is the vision clear, but the lenses allow your eyes to breath and stay healthy.
An optometrist is an individual that did an undergraduate degree and then went to a University Optometry program. Optometrists check your vision, give you prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses, manage any binocular vision disorders, and look at your neurological system. More importantly they are the primary care providers that manage the health of your eyes. From infections, to glaucoma, to diabetic retinopathy, optometrists diagnose and manage many ocular health conditions you may have. They are trained to recognize which systemic diseases and medications cause ocular problems, and are trained in prescribing medications for ocular diseases.
An ophthalmologist is an individual that did an undergraduate degree, went to Medical School and did a residency and fellowship in ophthalmology. You will need a referral to see an ophthalmologist, which you can get from your optometrist should there be a need. Ophthalmologists are highly specialized on different parts of the eye and deal with more severe conditions. They are also surgeons and will performs surgeries such as: cataract surgery, LASIK surgery, and retinal detachment repairs. They may work in a private clinic setting, or often work in collaboration with other ophthalmologists or optometrists either in large clinics or in hospitals.
All three divisions of eye care work together to ensure that you are taken care of from a vision standpoint and from a health standpoint.
Your optometrist is the link between the optician, the ophthalmologist and the rest of your health care team. Make sure to book your comprehensive eye examination with an optometrist to ensure your eyes are healthy.