Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist — What’s the Difference?

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What is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist? Our patients ask that question all the time! Ophthalmologists and optometrists are both care providers who treat eye disorders, but there are significant differences when looking at an optometrist vs. ophthalmologist.

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

Optometrists are Doctors

Optometrists go to 4 years of optometry school after they complete their undergraduate degree. They go to a school that specializes in optometry. Ophthalmologists complete traditional or osteopathic medical school, plus a residency after their undergraduate degree. The schooling path is very different between the two, yet they both focus on eye health.

It’s important to know that optometrists are eye doctors, though. They examine the eye, treat eye conditions, and manage them. Optometrists are usually the eye doctors who give you glasses and contacts. They treat some eye conditions non surgically and prescribe medications as needed. You could think of your optometrist as your primary care doctor—just for your eyes instead of your body.

Ophthalmologists are Doctorsand Surgeons

Ophthalmologists are eye doctors too—they go to medical school and complete their ophthalmology residency, and some go on to specialize and complete a fellowship. They are highly trained surgeons who treat eye conditions and vision disorders with medical intervention or surgery. They treat eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, dry eye, surgical vision correction, and corneal disorders through surgical or non-surgical means

Many ophthalmologists specialize as their career progresses. They may only perform LASIK surgery or only correct cataracts. Finding a doctor with experience in the field you need is the most important thing to look for. Take a look at their website and call their office if you need to. It doesn’t hurt to be thorough when choosing a doctor.

So Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist? Who Should I Visit?

It depends on what you need! If you are just looking to get your glasses prescription renewed, then an optometrist is probably what you need. If you have a problem with your eye or you think you might need eye surgery, then you may want to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. LASIK and other vision correction surgeries are performed by ophthalmologists, so visit an ophthalmologist if you’re interested in getting rid of your glasses or contacts for good.

An optometrist may diagnose you with a disorder or condition that requires surgery. If that happens they will refer you to an ophthalmologist. We have a great relationship with optometrists in our area and we rely on them for referrals and partnerships. Don’t worry too much about if you’re visiting the right type of eye doctor. Just call the eye doctor’s office and they will let you know if you should visit them or a different doctor.

Give Brimhall Eye a Call!

In Las Vegas and looking for an eye doctor? At Brimhall Eye we treat most eye conditions and our doctors are skilled and experienced. Give us a call today to make an appointment!

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