Ophthalmologist Questions Vision

What is the difference between optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

I have been confused about the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. Could you please highlight the difference between the two?

17 Answers

An optometrist goes to college and then optometry school and then starts practicing optometry. They are licensed by the Board of Optometry.

An ophthalmologist goes to college and then medical school and then one year of general medicine internship and then 3 years of ophthalmology surgical residency then sometimes a 1-2 year fellowship for further surgical training (in cornea or retina or glaucoma or other subspecialties) and starts practicing. Ophthalmologists have to pass the four USMLE national medical licensing board exams like all other physicians as well as the board exam by the American Board of Ophthalmology. They are licensed by the Board of Medicine.
Ophthalmologist are physicians, graduates of either a medical school or a school of osteopathy. You will find the letters MD or DO after their names identifying their degree (Medical Doctor or Doctor of Osteopathy). In either degree their training includes four years of medical school and a minimum of four years of postgraduate residency training, and frequently a fellowship following that for those who have subspecialty training such as cornea or retina. Their training is intensely focused on the diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye disorders from the primary care level (including glasses) to the most advanced treatments available.
Optometrists are vision care specialists who have four years of education after college and degrees from schools of optometry. You may identify their degree by the letters OD (Optometric Doctor) after their name. Their training is most intensely oriented to primary eye examinations, prescribing glasses and contacts and diagnosis and sometimes treatment of some of the more common and eye disorders depending on the state they practice in.
Without getting embroiled in the politics of vision care, I believe it is appropriate to say both disciplines have excellent training and benefit the patient. In my experience, the quality of care is frequently enhanced when optometrists and ophthalmologists maintain close working relationships for the betterment of care for the patient.
Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have completed college, 4 years of medical school, 1 year of internship, 3 years of residency and possibly another 1-2 years of fellowship. An Ophthalmologist diagnose and treats all eye diseases, fits and prescribes contact lens and glasses to correct vision problems and performs complex and delicate eye surgeries.

Optometrists have completed college and 4 years of Optometry school. They perform vision correction exams and fits and prescribes eyeglasses and contact lens. Optometrists can also perform certain eye exams and detect certain diseases in the eye.

The main difference between an ophthalmologist and optometrist is that an ophthalmologist attended medical school and is trained to perform eye surgeries. Optometrists do not perform surgeries.
The main difference is the schooling. Ophthalmologists go to medical school and can preform surgeries on the eye, such as LASIK and cataract removal. Optometrists go to Optometry school, and while they are commonly thought of as being able to only prescribe glasses/contacts, we can also treat a wide variety of ocular conditions (i.e.. glaucoma, infections, etc.) We cannot, however, preform surgery on the eye. There are advancements being made to change that in the future though.
Both ophthalmologists and optometrists specialize in eye care. Ophthalmologists complete medical school, internship, and residency before practicing. They can also complete additional fellowship training to subspecialize. Generally, eye surgery is done by the ophthalmologists.
The real Physician who went to medical school and studied medicine and Ophthalmology.

A fake doctor who never went to medical school or studied Ophthalmology but got scope of practice through politicians by giving big political contributions
Ophthalmologists go to medical school and don't learn about the eyes much there. They then specialize in eyes during residency and mostly do surgeries and treat eye diseases.

Optometrists go to optometry school and learn about the eyes and treating eye disease, prescribing glasses and contacts and know when to refer out to the primary care or other specialists when there are problems that could involve more systemic problems.
Both are doctors. Optometrists go to optometry school after grad school. Residency is optional and they can perform some eye surgeries. Ophthalmologists go to medical school and perform most eye surgeries. Medical optometry is a unique specialty where they can treat almost all eye diseases and perform a lot of eye surgeries, too.
Both go to college, usually for 4 yrs. Then compete for selection into 4 additional years of training .Optometrist-study anatomy/physiology of the eye, as well as the diagnosis and medical treatment of numerous eye conditions. Ophthalmologist, after the first 4 yrs, go to medical school, where they study the entire body and diseases affecting all parts. Then compete for an additional 3 yrs of residency, and 1-2 more years of fellowship in areas like retina, glaucoma, cornea, or pediatrics. Ophthalmologist are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of ocular diseases.
The biggest difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist is an optometrist does not do surgery. Optometrist's have an OD (Doctor of Optometry) and go to 4 years of optometry school and Ophthalmologist's have a MD and go to 4 years of medical school with a residency in ophthalmology. Optometrist's have extensive training and schooling in optics (for glasses) and also complete understanding of the structure and functions of the eye. Optometrists are able to follow and treat eye diseases. The best way to think of an optometrist is they are the primary care physician of the eye and if you need surgery or laser procedures, your optometrist would refer you to an ophthalmologist for treatment and then you would be released back to your optometrist for your regular eye health exams.
Opthalmologist can perform ocular surgery, but optometrist cannot.
The major difference between an optometrist (OD) and ophthalmologist (OMD) is that an OMD is trained to perform surgery, since he/she is a medical doctor. However, in some states, such as Oklahoma, OD's are trained to perform certain laser eye surgeries through the use of surgical means. ODs are trained to use non-surgical, non-invasive methods (lenses, prisms, telescopes, medication) to treat and manage visual problems and/or diseases.
Optometrists are eye professionals who can prescribe glasses and contact lenses, diagnose glaucoma and even monitor patients with chronic conditions. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who are specialized in the eye. The ophthalmologist can diagnose, treat medically and surgically the eye condition and since they are medical doctors as well, they can draw connections between your eye disease related to your systemic health condition and give you appropriate advice about your general health in relation to your eye disease. Only an ophthalmologist can do surgery on your eyes.
Optometrists are eye practitioners who essentially do spectacles or contact lenses. Ophthalmogists or Ophthalmic Surgeons are medical doctors trained to diagnose, treat and operate on eyes.
In 2018 there are many similarities in that most states now allow optometric physicians (optometrists) to diagnose and treat many Eye disorders with prescription Eye drops and medications. The biggest difference is that nearly all states do not allow optometrists to perform Eye surgery (like cataract, LASIK, or retina or glaucoma surgery. Optometrists have become more and more the primary care Eye specialists with our current shortage of EyeMD’s. There are also many osteopathic physicians (D.O.’s) who train to be surgical ophthalmologists and are included as EyeMD’s
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and a surgeon. An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry and is neither a medical doctor or a surgeon. An ophthalmologist has completed on average 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 4 years of Ophthalmology residency while an Optometrist has completed 4 years of college and 4 years of Optometry Schooling. Essentially, the medical doctor has much more extensive training in all fields of eye science except perhaps refraction (the measurement of refractive error in the eye or the need for corrective lenses), contact lens fitting and business essentials. Furthermore, an Ophthalmologist, the medical doctor has spent 3 complete years just examining patients and performing surgery whereas most Optometrists have only one complete year of just examining patients and no surgical training.
Optometrists do NOT attend medical school. Ophthalmologists do attend medical school. Optometrists have the equivalent of a PhD in Optics, which they get in 3-5 years after undergrad school. Ophthalmologists have an M.D. (or D.O. degree) and are trained surgeons and medical doctors of diseases of the eyes and vision. An Ophthalmologist, after finishing undergrad school, goes 4-5 years (for all 12 months of the year!) to Medical School, plus 12 month Internship, plus minimum 36 month Residency. In addition, many Ophthalmologists go through an additional 12-36 months of training to be a subspecialist, such as vitreo-retina specialist or oculoplastics specialist or pediatric/strabismus specialist or cornea specialist or glaucoma specialist, etc.. Consider that 38% of the brain's neurons are dedicated to vision!