Should I Visit an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?

How to know who you should call for your vision needs

If you require a routine eye exam or are simply updating your eyeglasses or contact lens prescription, a visit to the optometrist is the best option. However, for a specific problem in the eye resulting from a disease, trauma, infection, or surgery, an ophthalmologist is the most appropriate professional to visit.

 An optometrist (also known as O.D.s or Doctors of Optometry) is a primary health care doctor of the eye and visual system who provides comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system. An optometrist will perform an eye exam and write a prescription for corrective lenses.

 An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in all aspects of eye care, including diagnosis, management, and surgery of ocular diseases and disorders.

It’s common for ophthalmologist and optometrist to work together and co-manage a patient’s eye care needs. Here’s a real-life scenario: an optometrist conducts your thorough eye exam and prescribes corrective lenses (glasses and/or contact lenses). However, if surgery is indicated or if the optometrist detects and eye concern that is outside of his or her scope of practice, you may be referred to a ophthalmologist for more advanced care.

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