What’s the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

The short answer to this question is that an optometrist has earned a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree, whereas an ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who specializes in eye and vision care.

Optometry: the practice or profession of examining the eyes for visual defects and prescribing corrective lenses.

Ophthalmology: the branch of medicine concerned with the study and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye.

We’ll break down the differences a little bit more below.

What is an Optometrist?

Optometrists are professionals who earned a 4-year degree and then completed optometry school to earn a Doctor of Optometry degree (OD). While optometrists are doctors of optometry, they are not doctors of medicine. Optometrists do not go to med school.

What can Optometrists do?

  • Perform routine eye exams to evaluate vision and health issues such as glaucoma
  • Prescribe prescription glasses and contact lenses
  • Prescribe medicines for certain eye conditions
  • Provide pre- and post-care for eye surgery

Note: In the US, Oklahoma and Kentucky are the only 2 states that allow optometrists to perform minor laser/surgical procedures on their patients.

What is an Ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are physicians who completed med school and 3 years of specialized training in ophthalmology. If they choose to sub-specialize, ophthalmologists complete even more years of training.

Ophthalmologists are trained and qualified to treat diseases of the eye and perform surgery, as well as prescribe medicine and perform routine eye exams.

What can Ophthalmologists do?

  • Perform routine eye examines to evaluate vision and health issues such as glaucoma
  • Prescribe glasses and contact lenses
  • Provide pre- and post-care for eye surgery
  • Prescribe medicines for minor and complex eye conditions
  • Diagnose and treat eye issues
  • Perform eye surgeries

All of the doctors at Broberg Eye Care are ophthalmologists. We are passionate about working together as a team to provide our patients with outstanding and customized care.