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Considered the “expert” of eye healthcare, an ophthalmologist is a physician or surgeon who is dedicated to comprehensive care of the eyes and visual system.  

  • A medical doctor

  • Trained to recognize all complications and diseases affecting vision

  • Qualified to perform eye surgery and prescribe all medications

  • Educated in the treatment of all eye issues and injuries, including the severe and complex

  • Performs eye exams/prescribes and fits eye glasses and contacts

  • Completed 4 years of undergrad; 4 years of medical school; 1-year internship; additional 3 years (minimum) of medical and surgical training specific to the visual system

  • May have received additional training in a subspecialty such as glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, etc.  

  • Many involved in research of eye disease causes and cure 



What is an optometrist?

As a member of the eye care professional team, an optometrist concentrates primarily on vision monitoring and correction.

  • Licensed to perform eye exams and vision tests
  • Prescribes and fits eye glasses and contact lenses
  • Qualified to detect and treat a limited number of eye complications
  • Completed 4 years of undergrad; 4 years of optometry school

Optometrists are sometimes referred to as “doctors of optometry”.  This means they have completed a four-year program at an optometry school, but should not be confused with a medical doctorate.


What is an optician?

An optician is a technician trained to verify or dispense eye prescriptions.

  • Ensures glasses are correct and fit comfortably
  • Dispenses glasses and contacts
  • Training varies; 23 states require opticians to be licensed

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