Understanding the Difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist

Optometrists and ophthalmologists undergo different levels of training. It is important to learn the differences between them so that you can choose the right eye care provider and receive the best treatments for the health of your eyes. At Broberg Eye Care in Austin, TX, our doctors have years of experience providing individualized care to our patients. Embracing the belief that all eye care professionals play a crucial role in optimal eye health, we will discuss the differences between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist so you can be well-informed to seek the care you need.

Optometrists vs Ophthalmologists

An optometrist provides primary vision care, including standard sight testing and vision correction. This eye care professional is also responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management of vision changes. Optometrists are licensed to prescribe and dispense corrective eyewear, such as glasses and contact lenses. They may also identify and diagnose certain abnormalities and prescribe medications for a number of eye diseases.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye health and vision care. In addition to identifying vision problems and prescribing corrective eyewear, an ophthalmologist also diagnoses and treats all diseases affecting the eyes through surgical and non-surgical treatments. Many ophthalmologists are also active in the scientific community, contributing to research regarding the risk factors, causes, and treatments for vision disorders and eye diseases.

Education and Training among Eye Care Professionals

After attending and successfully completing an undergraduate program, an optometrist receives an OD (doctor of optometry) degree upon completion of a four-year optometry school. Once an optometrist enters practice, his or her primary role is performing routine eye examinations and vision tests.

In addition to identifying vision problems and prescribing corrective eyewear, an ophthalmologist also diagnoses and treats all diseases affecting the eyes through surgical and non-surgical treatments.

As an M.D., an ophthalmologist completes at least eight years of specialized training after he or she completes an undergraduate program. Therefore, ophthalmologists are licensed to practice medicine and perform eye surgery. Some ophthalmologists complete another one to two years of focused training in a specific area of medical eye care. Ophthalmologists who continue their training are called subspecialists and often concentrate in areas such as neurology, cornea, retina, pediatrics, glaucoma, and plastic surgery, among others. Subspecialists fully devote their profession to caring for certain groups of patients suffering from specific conditions or diseases.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Provider for Your Needs

It is easy to take healthy eyes for granted. We often do not consider how much we depend on our vision for every aspect of life. The most routine tasks—driving, working, playing sports, or even recognizing a family member—are completely dependent on healthy eyesight.

Unforeseen eye problems can arise at any time, often so gradually we barely notice. For this reason, it is important to see an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive medical eye examination by the time you reach age 40. With an early diagnosis, many eye diseases can be successfully treated before they worsen. By performing an assessment and discussing your medical history with you at length, an M.D. can help you be proactive regarding your eye health. Investing in proper eye care at the appropriate age can offer you a lifetime of benefits.

Schedule a Consultation with Broberg Eye Care

To learn more about what our team of ophthalmologists can do for you, schedule a visit with one of our doctors. You can schedule your consultation by calling (512) 447-6096 or by contacting us online.

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