Vancouver Optometrists

4466 West 10th Avenue
Call: 604-224-3937

Introduction to optometry

Monday, July 20, 2015 @ 10:07 PM
Author: Amit Mathur


A lot of people say they’re going to the eye doctor when it comes time for their annual visit. For parents it’s easy to communicate what that means to their children. For adults it takes out the confusion of accidentally calling their eye doctor the wrong thing. We hear the word optometrist a lot but it’s not always clear what that actually refers to.

The most common word associated with an eye doctor is optometrist. There are other specialties and jobs encompassed within the office where you go for your eye exams including ophthalmologists and opticians.

Optometrists are doctors of optometry, which is the branch of health care concerned with the eyes, structures relating to the eyes, vision, visual information processing and visual systems. An optometrist can examine patients, diagnose, treat and help them manage eye conditions. They can prescribe medications for eye conditions. They are able to write prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. An optometrist can fit and adjust glasses and contact lenses. They can also recommend devices for subnormal vision.

They have extensive medical training. Optometrists must complete at least six years of education and often more. After two years in a Bachelor of Science program they can apply to a four-year Optometry program. Many will finish the Bachelor of Science before applying or being accepted. At the end of a four-year Optometry program a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) is granted. After their studies an optometrist will have extensive knowledge of the anatomy of human eyes, contact lenses, vision, light, neurophysiology, optics and pharmacology.

Optometrists perform the vast majority of eye exams in Canada. The most common treatments performed by optometrists are writing prescriptions for glasses and contacts, prescribing medications including drops, gels and ointments, removing foreign bodies from the eyes, treating tear ducts, treating focusing problems, treatment for low vision and referrals.

An ophthalmologist is a doctor who graduated from medical school and then spent several years in residencies and training in eye diseases. Ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat eye diseases. They can perform eye surgeries. They can perform eye exams and write prescriptions. Ophthalmologists may be involved in research.

The biggest difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist is the training they receive. One attends medical school and works in a clinical environment. The other attends a specialized optometry program and will become a part of an optometrists office. During medical school ophthalmologists receive regular medical training on all the parts of the body. They will also complete a standard medical residency program before specializing. An optometry program is much more focused on the eyes than the body as a whole.

Opticians fill prescriptions for glasses. They make lenses and fit them into frames. They adjust them and fit them on patients.

Some practices will have both optometrists and ophtalmologists at them. Others will refer patients and they will work together to care for their patients. Many practices will have opticians in their clinic to make and fit glasses on site. Some opticians will work independently.

Leave a Reply