Does Your Eye Doctor Have to Be a Doctor?

Your eyes are among, if not the most, sensitive parts of your body. As such, you need to stay on top of your visual health in case you realize that something is off with your eyes. It is even advisable to consult an eye specialist once in a while for checkups. Such visits can help the doctor identify any issue with your eyes as soon as possible and recommend effective treatment. Early treatment of an eye defect minimizes its chances of getting worse with time. Many specialists operate an optometric center where you can get the best eye care. Optometrists are trained to handle every eye-related issue.

Additionally, they can perform eye tests, fit eyewear, and prescribe treatment. However, a real doctor is needed to perform other complex tasks, such as performing eye surgery and giving you an appointment for glasses. One of the critical topics that confuses many people is eye exams. If you fall under that category, you may also be asking yourself, are all eye exams the same? Such examinations differ depending on individual symptoms. However, an average eye exam involves getting checked for refractive eye errors and screening for common eye-related conditions. This mostly happens during your regular visits to your eye doctor.

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You would notice if you went for a doctors visit, and the doctor wasn’t a “Dr.” at all, but just a “Mr.” or a “Ms.” What would you do if you went to the eye clinic and found that you were being treated not by Dr. Smith, but by Mrs. Smith? Would it bother you? Not all of the specialists at an eye care clinic are actually doctors, not if they are optometrists, as opposed to ophthalmologists. Here are the key differences between the two, and why, for most cases, your doctor doesn’t actually need to be a “Dr.”

The Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmologists receive more training than most optometrists will have. They must complete college, and eight years of medical training in addition to that in order to obtain the licensing required for practicing surgery, and medicine. They can certainly perform eye exams, but they are also qualified to conduct eye surgery, and treat eye diseases or infections. This means that in order to have LASIK eye surgery, you would want to be sure that you were working with an ophthalmologist as opposed to an optometrist. Ophthalmologists can also have further specialized training in areas such as pediatrics, glaucoma, neurology, or the cornea.

The Optometrist

Just because an ophthalmologist has more training, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get the best eye exam possible from an optometrist instead. They too are qualified to perform eye exams, prescribe, and fit eye wear. If you have an eye infection, an optometrist can diagnose your condition, but they may not be able to prescribe medication depending on the state that they are in. An optometrist must have an OD (Doctor of Optometry degree) in order to practice, but it is not quite the the same as an MD (Doctor of Medicine degree). Fewer years of schooling are required, but that doesn’t mean that they are less qualified to perform the services that they are licensed for. In fact, if you need eye surgery, an optometrist can provide both pre- and post-operative care.

Ultimately, if all you need to do is have your eyes tested, and a prescription made for new eye wear, then the title of your specialist doesn’t matter. There is a high demand for eye care in America, with more than 225 million people requiring corrective lenses. If all of the eye care specialists pursued the full eight years of education to obtain the licensing for ophthalmology, there might not be enough eye care providers to meet the need in this country.

So, does it matter if you see a good optometrist, or an ophthalmologist instead? No. If your eye doctor turns out to be a doctor of optometry, and not an MD, don’t worry. Unless you need eye surgery, or you have an exceptional condition, you’re in good hands. More can be found here: Prescription google glass houston


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