Getting to Know Your Eye Care Professionals Better

In the realm of eye care there are many similar sounding professionals, including optometrist, ophthalmologist, and optician. Do you know the differences between them? Below is a brief summary of each one.

Optometrists are the primary healthcare professionals for the eyes. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures. They also identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc. Doctors of optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, eyeglasses and contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures, such as the removal of foreign bodies. The scope of how an optometrist practices depends on the state in which he or she resides. Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle. An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who is specialized in eye and vision care. In order to become an ophthalmologist, acquisition of an M.D. or a D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degree is necessary following the completion of college. After 4 years of medical school and a year of internship in general medicine, every ophthalmologist spends a minimum of 3 years in a university and hospital-based residency specializing in ophthalmology. During residency, the eye M.D. receives special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis, and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses, to performing complex and delicate eye surgery. Some ophthalmologists will acquire additional fellowship training in a subspecialty area such as retina, cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, oculoplastics, refractive surgery, pathology, or neuro-ophthalmology.

Optometrists work with ophthalmologists by providing referrals for surgical or medical care of serious illnesses. Conversely, some ophthalmologists may refer patients to optometrists for primary eye care, refractions, contact lenses, prescription eyeglass lenses, and postsurgical care.

Last but not least, opticians are trained in filling prescriptions for eyeglasses. They determine the proper eyeglass frames and adjust frames for proper fit. In some states, opticians may be licensed to fit contact lenses. Opticians often work closely within the same practice as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, or an optician may have an independent practice.

At Summit eye care we have all three “O’s” available on site for your convenience. Dr. Truc Ly Tran is the optometrist, Dr. Vic Khemsara is the ophthalmologist, and Sheila Lirio is the optician.

We all work closely together to provide you with the best care and service. Stop by and visit us soon!

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