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Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

Reviewed by
Dr. Tejas D. Shah 90% (49 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Ophthalmology, Diploma in Ophthalmology , Fellowship in Cornea and Anterior Segment
Ophthalmologist, Ahmedabad  •  32 years experience
Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

Eyes are the most important part of our lives. There are various branches of medicine, which treat different aspects of the eye. Chief among them are: 

  1. Ophthalmology
  2. Optometry

Ophthalmology deals with the structure, physiology and diseases of the eye. On the other hand, optometry is a vision care science, which involves the treatment and rectification of the visual system. Specialists emerging from these two schools of medicines are called Ophthalmologists and optometrists respectively. Though, they both deal with the corrective measures and examination of healthy eyes, there are crucial differences between them.

Some of those differences are listed below:

  1. Meaning: A specialist in surgical and medical eye problems, who performs operations in the eye is called an Ophthalmologist. On the other hand, an Optometrist is a specialist who has a degree in Doctor of Optometry (OD). He is not a doctor but a trained individual.   
  2. Area of Specialization: Both these specialists have different areas of specialization. An Ophthalmologist specializes in only vision and eye care. He/she has the necessary training to perform operations on the eye. On the other hand, an Optometrist is not a doctor, but a specialist who is involved in diagnosis, management and treatment of vision changes. He/she has the license to perform eye exams and tests and can prescribe corrective lenses.
  3. Training: Both the specialists differ vastly in their training. An Ophthalmologist is trained to treat all eye problems and is equipped to perform operations. He/she undergoes four years of medical school and one year of internship in any hospital. Optometrists on the other hand, after three or more years in college have to undergo four years of training before receiving a doctor of Optometrist. (OD). If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Ophthalmologist.
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