Difference between Optometrist and Ophthalmologist

July 21, 2016 by Editorial Team

Do you feel as if there are so many medical specialties that they should add a new class in school teaching you where to go for what? No need to worry. Just do some research before scheduling a doctor’s appointment and read up on what type of recommendation each medical professional can offer. For example if you need an eye exam because your vision is not that good, do you go to an optometrist or do you need to see an ophthalmologist? What is the difference between them?


An optometrist is a healthcare professional who can provide correction diagnosis and treatment and who can recommend the right kind of equipment to manage vision changes. In order to become an optometrist, a person has to go to Optometry School and get a degree as a doctor in optometry after four years of studies. They determine eye acuity and their main focus is that of prescribing corrective eye wear, from glasses to contact lenses, along with medication for specific conditions and in accordance to state regulations. They treat three main conditions: nearsightedness, far sightedness and astigmatism, and they can diagnose glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and conjunctivitis.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. This is a physician who has completed four years of medical school and who has additional medical training consisting in one year of internship and three more of specialized medical training. He can diagnose and treat eye diseases, prescribe medication and, with extra qualifications, perform eye surgery. He can recommend corrective eyewear as well as treat conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and conjunctivitis. Specially trained ophthalmological surgeons can perform corrective surgery for conditions such as crossed eyes, cataracts and glaucoma, along with other types of interventions.


The first difference consists in the fact that the former is a healthcare professional while the latter is a certified physician. While both of them handle eye related issues, the ophthalmologist is the one with a more comprehensive training and range of abilities and with the knowledge to treat more extensive eye needs. While the optometrist only handles matters related to acuity and vision correction, he can also diagnose but not treat eye conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts and others. Ophthalmologists are the ones who can perform eye surgery and save a person’s eyesight when corrective eyewear can no longer do the job.

Comparison Chart

Is a healthcare professionalIs a certified physician
Has four years of Optometry SchoolHas four years of Medical College, one year of internship and three years of medical training
Handles eye acuity and can prescribe corrective eye wear and medication under certain conditionsHandles all matters related to the eyes, can prescribe medication and perform surgery
Can diagnose some eye conditionsCan diagnose and treat all eye conditions