Types of Eye Care Professionals

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Below are distinctions between a few of the similar-sounding titles in the field of eye and vision care. 

Doctors of Optometry/Optometrists (O.D.) are the primary health care professionals for the eye. They are trained to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders that affect the eye or vision. Optometry students concentrate specifically on the structure, function and disorders of the eye for four years during their graduate education to earn their doctoral degree. In addition to being the experts on eye and vision diseases and disorders, doctors of optometry have the education and training to diagnose the ocular manifestations of diseases that affect the entire body, such as diabetes and hypertension. They also are qualified to evaluate their patients for surgery when appropriate and often manage their patients' care both pre- and post-operatively.

Opticians are technicians trained to grind lenses to prescription and fit glasses. Opticians attend technical school and are not licensed to prescribe glasses or perform eye examinations.

Ophthalmologists (M.D.) are physicians who have completed a residency and specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases of the eye. They can perform eye examinations, are licensed to prescribe medication and write glasses prescriptions, as well as perform ocular surgery.