In April, 2010 in the Maryland Women’s Journal there was an excellent piece about choosing your eye doctor written by Anne Arundel Eye Center’s own, Dr. Samuel Boles. He penned an insightful and informative article to help with this decision.
He explains: “ When you think of seeing an Eye Doctor, it is easy to get confused as to the differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists. While they provide some of the same services, there are also several major differences. Once you understand these differences, it’s easy to determine when you need to see an optometrist and when a visit to the ophthalmologist is in order.”
What is an Optometrist?
An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry, also known as an O.D. To be an optometrist, one must complete four years of college or undergraduate education followed by four years in a college of optometry. All optometrists must pass a series of rigorous nationally-administered exams to earn their license. Some optometrists will also complete a one-year post-graduate residency to gain more specialized expertise in a particular area.
Optometrists are licensed to do the following:
- Examine and diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and retinal diseases.
- Diagnose systemic conditions that may affect the eyes, including diabetes and hypertension.
- Examine, diagnose and treat visual conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia.
- Prescribe contact lenses and glasses, vision therapy and medications such as antibiotics.
- Perform minor surgical procedures such as the removal of a foreign body.
What is an Ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (an M.D.) who specializes in the medical treatment of the eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses to eye surgery. They may also be involved in medical research of the eye structure as well as diseases of the eye.
After medical school, every ophthalmologist completes a three-year residency in general ophthalmology. During residency, they receive special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Some ophthalmologists spend an additional year or two training in a specific area of eye care to become a specialist.
While the routine care provided by ophthalmologists and optometrists is now very similar, there are several major differences. They are:
- Optometrists spend additional time and attention to contact lens fitting and care.
- Optometrists are uniquely positioned to fit and prescribe glasses and care for refractive disorders.
- Ophthalmologists are trained to perform surgery, including Lasik vision correction, removal of cataracts, retinal detachment surgery eye reconstructive surgery and more.
- Ophthalmologists have additional specialized training in diagnosing and treating more complex medical eye conditions.
- Ophthalmologists can prescribe a wider range of prescription drugs for specific eye problems and diseases unlike optometrists.
- Exams by Ophthalmologists are more likely to be covered by general medical insurance rather than Vision Insurance.”
Dr Boles gives a very clear distinction between the different types of care here. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Anne Arundel Eye Center to meet with cataracts and glaucoma specialist Dr. Samuel Boles, or if you simply have a questions about what you have just read, contact Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here today!
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