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Understanding the Different Eye Doctors & Vision Specialists

Monday, October 12, 2015 @ 10:10 AM
Author: Amit Mathur


Vision health is of the utmost importance to us at Point Grey Eye Care, so we wanted to help you understand the different roles of specialists out there. There are so many different types of vision specialists, we thought it might be helpful to run down all the differences and their educational backgrounds so you understand specifically who you are seeing and what role they can play in your vision health.


Optometry is a specialty of vision that is primarily responsible for the health of your eyes, your “visual system” and the different parts that help you see. An optometrist will examine your eyes to make sure they are working properly, to diagnose any eye diseases or disorders. They are the ones who will test your eyes, prescribe any glasses or contact lenses and treat you if you do have any eye disorders or diseases. Optometrists are highly educated as well; once they finished their four-year undergraduate degree, they go to optometry school for another four years before they receive their O.D. (doctor of optometry degree). And if they want to specialize in pediatrics, contact lenses, neuro-optometry, etc, they must complete a residency program as well which can be another few years depending.


Ophthalmologists are quite simply eye doctors; they are medical doctors who have specialized in the function, diseases and anatomy of the human eyes, as well as perform surgery if required. They are trained to diagnose, prevent and/or treat surgical, medical and refractive problems as they relate to diseases and disorders of the eyes. Ophthalmologists can treat the eyes in a variety of ways including prescribing medicine, glasses or contact lenses and even performing surgery in order to improve or prevent further damage to your vision. Becoming an ophthalmologist is no easy task; after they spend four years in medical school, there are another four years of internships and residencies in hospitals that are further required. This is when decide if they are going to invest more time in a vision specialty like geriatrics or glaucoma, etc.

Low Vision Specialists

As an ophthalmologist or optometrist, you can receive further training to be specialized in low vision issues. This allows testing, diagnosis and treatment in order to treat certain eye problems. Some patients who are progressively losing their vision can see low vision specialists to determine if certain things optical and non-optical devices or a change in lighting and other equipment might assist with their problems.


An optician is a healthcare professional who specializes in preparing and dispensing glasses and contact lenses. They are trained to read your vision prescription that tells them exactly what you need for each eye in order to see better. They make sure your glasses and lenses as well as your contact lenses fit properly. They have gone through an accredited post-secondary school program and have learned through on-the-job training as well as there are technical skills required to measuring eyes, understanding prescriptions and adjusting frames and so forth. Some opticians are also able to provide low vision devices and artificial eyes with extra training.

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