The health of your eyes is important, and so is choosing the right kind of eye doctor. The terms optometrist and ophthalmologist are often confusing. These health care professionals differ in their training and specializations. This article provides a clearer understanding of the differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists.


An optometrist is a medical professional who specializes in eye care. They perform eye exams, eye tests, check on corrective lenses, detect eye problems, and prescribe medicines related to eye diseases.

To earn a doctor of optometry (OD) degree, optometrists must earn a bachelor's degree and then do four years in optometry school. A licensed optometrist practices optometry.

Optometrists do not perform eye surgery, but they provide care before and after it to patients who have undergone it. Maintaining an optometry license also requires them to attend continuing education classes.


Treatments offered by an optometrist:

  • Prescribe glasses and contact lenses

  • Identify and treat vision problems, such as astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness

  • Identify eyestrain

  • Check for glaucoma

  • Identify retinal detachment

  • Identify cataracts

  • Check for color blindness

  • Relieve dry eyes

  • Relieve pink eye and other infections of the eye

  • Provide low-vision aids and medications



Medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in eye health and vision care are known as ophthalmologists. They vary in the training level and the type of conditions they can diagnose and treat.

Ophthalmologists go through the standard bachelor's degree, then to four years of medical school and at least three years of residency training. They check for various eye problems and diseases, prescribe medicines, and perform various types of eye surgery.

They are also engaged in research on various eye diseases and problems.


Treatments offered by an ophthalmologist:

  • Eye swelling

  • Diabetic eye diseases

  • Glaucoma

  • Eye tumor

  • Cataracts

  • Retinal and corneal damage


Who Should You See – an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?


If you simply need routine eye exams and are in good health, both eye professionals are qualified to care for your eye needs. Choosing either is a personal choice.

An ophthalmologist may provide medical care to patients who suffer from eye health issues, such as cataracts or glaucoma.


Often, optometrists check up on your eye conditions first and refer you to ophthalmologists for suitable treatment or even consult with them for advice.




Both professionals are well versed in the fields of vision. They may have different roles and abilities, but both aim to provide a smooth and successful eye treatment.

No matter how healthy your eyes seem, routine eye examinations are very important. Besides checking your vision, an eye exam allows your doctor to detect hidden eye diseases whose symptoms may not be visible.


To make the right choice at the right time, knowing the difference between the two eye doctors is essential because it will affect your eyesight.


Grin Eye Care in Leawood or Olathe, Kansas, can assist you with more information on the two professions. Call (913) 829-5511 to schedule an appointment today.

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