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What is the Difference Between Ophthalmologist and Optometrist?

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The difference between ophthalmologist and optometrist is a common cause for confusion. The main difference is that though both professionals deal with eye health and eye care, unlike an ophthalmologist, an optometrist does not have a medical degree.

Becoming an Ophthalmologist

Extensive training is required for potential ophthalmologist. This includes a four year undergraduate degree in chemistry and biology and possibly mathematics, and a four year medical degree from an accredited medical school. After graduation an ophthalmology student will then complete several years in a residency program at a university hospital specializing in ophthalmology and will specialize in medical eye treatment and eye surgery. Licensed ophthalmologists are able to diagnose and treat all eye problems as well as prescribing medications, prescribing visual correction aids such as glasses and performing eye surgery.

The role of an Ophthalmologist

Ophthalmology physicians are qualified to treat a wide range of eye disorders including cataracts, glaucoma and cancer of the eyes. They may also prescribe glasses for near or far sightedness or other vision problems.

Becoming an Optometrist

Training is required to become an optometrist though it is not as extensive as training for an ophthalmologist. In order to qualify for optometry school a student must have first completed a bachelor’s degree, usually in chemistry or biology or another science related field. The student will then enroll into optometry college where they will complete four years of training to qualify as an optometrist. After qualifying they can obtain an optometry license and begin practicing.

The role of an Optometrist

Optometrists are responsible for conducting routine eye examinations on people of all ages and prescribing corrective vision aids. They ca also diagnose and treat eye conditions and refer patients to an ophthalmologist for more complicated treatments or surgery.

If you are undecided which field of eye care you wish to go into, it is important to consider the difference between ophthalmologist and optometrist. Bear these things in mind;

  • Do you have the necessary scientific background?
  • How long do you wish to undertake training?
  • How long will you budget last?
  • Do you wish to specialize in any particular area of eye health care?

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