Oral & Vision Health Blog

Ophthalmologists and Optometrists: What's the Difference?

Do you know the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist? Do you find yourself confusing the two professions? If so, you are not alone. Many people make the same mistake.

The biggest difference between them is the amount of training they receive. Ophthalmologists generally have four years of undergraduate study and four years of medical school. This is followed by an internship of at least one year. Then they have three to four years of specialized medical, surgical and related training. An optometrist has four years of undergraduate study, followed by four years of optometry school. The good news is that visits to both can be covered by affordable vision insurance! But here is some more information about each of them. 

Ophthalmologists. This is a medical doctor, or MD, who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eye. They attend medical school, much like any other physician. They are licensed by a medical board to practice medicine and perform surgery. In addition, ophthalmologists have extensive training in all areas of vision care. They diagnose and treat diseases of the eye or visual systems. They also prescribe and dispense glasses and contact lenses.

Ophthalmologists are often considered a one-stop provider for any eye or vision care needs. But some services they preform might be covered by medical insurance and not vision insurance - so make sure your coverage is up to date!

Optometrists. Referred to as doctors of optometry, they are more concerned with issues related to vision. Additionally, they prescribe and dispense glasses and contact lenses. They are often the first line of defense for patients who may have more serious medical and visual issues. Optometrists can diagnose such conditions as hypertension, glaucoma and diabetes. They can refer patients to other medical professionals for treatment.

Optometrists are highly skilled at helping patients treat diseases of the eye. They also help patients and their physicians in co-managing medical issues that affect the structures of the eye, vision and quality of life for patients. Most optometry services are covered by affordable vision insurance options! 

Although different, both optometrists and ophthalmologists play a critical role in total vision care. Speaking of your vision health, check out our FREE eBook below on how your vision health needs change depending on the stage of life you are in! 

Download our Free eBook on Vision Care Through The Ages Now!