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If you’ve ever had to search for an eye care doctor, you’re likely aware that there are several different types of eye specialists. Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians are all professionals who specialize in eye care.
An optometrist is an eye doctor that can examine, diagnose, and treat your eyes. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who can perform medical and surgical interventions for eye conditions. An optician is a professional who can help fit eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision-correcting devices.
In this article, we will explore the education requirements, salary, scope of practice, and services that optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians provide. We will also discuss how to choose the best eye-care professional for your needs.
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What is an optometrist and what do they do?
An optometrist is the primary health care provider for routine eye care.
An optometry program is a postgraduate program that takes roughly 4 years to complete, depending on the school and curriculum. The program curriculum includes:
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basic and advanced eye examination techniques
client case history and case studies
additional courses in the natural sciences (including optics) and pharmacology
Optometry program coursework also includes full-time clinical training as a resident during the final 1 to 2 years of the program.
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Services they provide and what they can treat
You can visit an optometrist for your yearly eye exam, to refill an eyeglass or contact prescription, or even to receive medication and treatment for certain eye conditions. Unlike an ophthalmologist, an optometrist is not a surgical specialist and cannot treat more serious eye conditions.