Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MDs) who specialize in eye care. Ophthalmology is a surgical subspecialty. Ophthalmologists are licensed by state medical boards to practice medicine and are usually board-certified in ophthalmology. Ophthalmologists are certified to:
Quick! Put your hands on your head. Are your glasses there? Grab your neck — are they dangling there? Now, hold your electric bill four feet from your face and try to read it....
Welcome to the midlife version of Simon Says, a nearly universal condition known as presbyopia, which translates roughly to "elderly eye" (as if crow's feet weren't enough). It usually starts in your early 40s, as the lens of the eye stiffens, losing its ability to focus and making it difficult to see objects...
Diagnose refractive errors and prescribe corrective lenses.
Detect signs of disease and refer you to an ophthalmologist.
Administer diagnostic drugs.
Diagnose and treat eye diseases and prescribe therapeutic drugs (in most states).
Perform some eye surgery (in some states).
Opticians are skilled technicians. They do not test vision, prescribe corrective lenses, or diagnose or treat eye diseases. Some states require completion of a 2-year training program or a 3-year apprenticeship for a license. Others have no formal requirements. Opticians can:
Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can diagnose refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, and prescribe corrective lenses, such as glasses or contact lenses.
Ophthalmologists can diagnose all disorders that affect the eye. They can carry out any medical or surgical treatment.
In a few states, even where they are allowed to administer diagnostic drugs, optometrists are not allowed to diagnose or treat eye disease. They may observe signs of disease and refer you to an ophthalmologist.
On average, optometrists charge less for routine eye exams than ophthalmologists. You may also be able to get an appointment with an optometrist sooner than with an ophthalmologist. Optometrists are more likely than ophthalmologists to offer evening and weekend appointments.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
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