Which Eye Professional Should I Visit?

The optometrist, the ophthalmologist and the optician.

The sense of sight is one of life’s precious gift to mankind. To preserve this gift is to care for it. Vision care is an encapsulation of different functions each handled by trained eye care providers including ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians, who offer quality services to safeguard
vision for a lifetime.

It is important then to know which eye care professional to visit when due.
Until we get clarified, it usually appears stress-free to thin ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians are all the same, as long as we can get our vision challenges fixed.

But well, are they?

OPTICIANS

The optician though not an eye doctor is an important part of the eye care team. With the eyeglass prescriptions are written by the optometrist or ophthalmologist, the opticians fit and dispense spectacle lenses or eyeglasses, manufacture optical lenses and other eyewear accessories.

Also, opticians can further receive training in the fitting of contact lenses.

OPTOMETRISTS VS OPHTHALMOLOGISTS

The Optometrists and Ophthalmologists are both trained to perform routine eye exams and also detect, diagnose and manage eye diseases; ophthalmologists are however eye doctors licensed and trained to perform eye surgeries.

Recently, in some developed countries like the US, optometrists have gone further to receive training in the use of LASER (as a surgical tool) to
correct errors of refraction and to carry out minor surgical procedures.

The Optometrists is a primary health care professional who is trained to diagnose and treat diseases of the eyes and visual system, prescribe spectacles, contact lenses and other visual aids.

Optometrists also provide emergency eye care services. Optometrists may specialize in the area of Cornea and Contact Lens, Low Vision and Rehabilitation, Pediatric Optometry, Binocular Vision and Orthoptics, Behavioral Optometry, Sports Vision Care, etc.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has further specialized in eye care and is trained to perform complex surgical procedures. The ophthalmologist may also specialize in a particular area of the eye including anterior segment, posterior segment, retina, glaucoma etc.

Most common eye disorders like eye infections, errors of refraction, dry eye disease and certain chronic eye diseases are treated by the optometrist. On the other hand, eye conditions requiring surgical intervention like visually significant cataracts, retinal detachments and others, require eye care from an eye doctor who is trained and highly skilled in managing such conditions-in this case a specially trained ophthalmologist.

In certain cases, eye diseases may be co-managed by both professionals. In this case, the optometrist provides primary eye care and where needed, refers to the specialist ophthalmologist for defined management.

After management with the ophthalmologist, a return referral to the optometrist is made for post-surgical management as per the ophthalmologist’s recommendation.

In all, the first point of call for any eye disorder is to be made by the optometrist, who would make a referral to the specialist ophthalmologist as needed.

Hope this was helpful

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