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Eye Diseases | Types of Eyecare Professionals

Types of Eyecare Professionals

Optometrist or Optometric Physician (Doctor of Optometry, O.D.)

The optometrist is the primary eyecare physician — the family doctor for general vision care. Training includes four years of college, four years of optometry school, and an optional residency for specialties such as pediatrics, contact lenses, and ocular disease. All optometrists provide the following services:

  • Comprehensive eye examinations.

  • Prescription and fitting of glasses and contact lenses.

  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye disease conditions.

  • Screening for general health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

  • Many optometrists provide specialized services in the following areas: pediatric eyecare, developmental vision disorders and vision related learning disabilities; vision therapy; low vision care for the partially-sighted; and specialty contact lens fitting.

Ophthalmologist (Medical Doctor, M.D.)

An ophthalmologist is a medical eye doctor whose primary role is to provide diagnosis and treatment for eye health conditions. Training includes four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship, and three years of residency. All ophthalmologists provide the following services:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases and general health conditions that affect the eyes.

  • Surgical correction of eye conditions when necessary.

  • Prescription of glasses and contact lenses.

  • Screening for general health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

  • Many ophthalmologists provide specialty services in the following areas: pediatric eyecare, refractive surgery, and specific eye disease treatment for retinal disease, glaucoma, and cataracts.

Optician (COT)

An optician is a optical specialist who designs, grinds, and fits lenses. There are many skill levels within the profession from persons who can measure and dispense glasses to board certified opticians with three years of education and apprenticeship. Opticians perform the following services:

  • Fitting and dispensing of optical devices prescribed by optometrists or ophthalmologists.

  • Some opticians perform the following specialty services: contact lens design and fitting, low vision device design and fitting, and the design and manufacturing of specialty lenses.

Ophthalmic Technician

Ophthalmic technicians are specifically trained to provide technical assistance to the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Typically they perform visual acuity measurement, visual field testing, and eye pressure measurement as well as other tasks. Most ophthalmic technicians receive training through a certified program.

Vision Therapist or Orthoptist

These individuals are specifically trained to assist the optometrist or ophthalmologist in providing therapy for eye coordination disorders and developmental vision disorders. The therapist works one-on-one with patients to help them overcome functional vision problems that cannot be corrected with glasses or surgery.

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