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:
In a tough economy, saving money is on everyone's mind. But when it comes to eye care, experts say that what you do to save money today may put you at risk of much higher costs in the future.
"As people try to ration their income, they will often choose to forgo or skip their routine eye exam," says Samuel Pierce, OD, a Trussville, Ala.-based optometrist and a board member of the American Optometric Association. "It's penny-wise and health care-foolish."
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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