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If you need to visit an eye doctor, you may want to understand the various options available before scheduling your appointment. Some people don’t realize there are different types of eye doctors to choose from, and sometimes, mistakenly schedule an appointment with the wrong type of eye doctor. However, there is a distinct difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist and the services each offers.

SERVICES FROM AN OPTOMETRIST

An optometrist is a healthcare professional who offers services for primary vision care. Technically, an optometrist is not a medical doctor, but have a doctor of optometry degree. An optometrist is licensed to perform vision treatments that include managing vision changes, diagnosing vision loss, administering vision tests, and treating vision changes.

The primary function of an optometrist is to perform eye exams, administer eye tests, dispense contact lenses and glasses, detect abnormalities with eyes, and treat certain types of eye diseases. There are some situations in which an optometrist may refer their patient to an ophthalmologist, especially if the optometrist is unable to provide the level of treatment needed.

SERVICES FROM AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in vision care. Their level of training is higher than those of an optometrist, and they have at least eight years of medical training after completing college. An ophthalmologist is able to diagnose and treat all types of eye conditions, prescribe and dispense contact lenses and glasses, and also perform eye surgery.

Some ophthalmologists have sub-specialties, which require an additional two years of medical training called a “fellowship.” These specialties may include plastic surgery, neurology, pediatrics, and more.

WHICH EYE DOCTOR SHOULD YOU VISIT?

Many people choose to visit an optometrist if they don’t have any major concerns about eye disease. If an eye disease is detected, it is possible you will be asked to have a follow-up visit with an ophthalmologist after meeting with an optometrist.

An ophthalmologist is able to do everything offered by an optometrist, and can also offer additional treatments unique to their medical degree. These extra treatments are especially important if you are suffering from vision loss or any other type of eye disease. If there’s any doubt about the type of doctor you need to visit, consider scheduling an appointment with an ophthalmologist to ensure you get the care you need.

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