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Optometrist Vs. Ophthalmologist: Everything you need to know


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If you've ever needed to find an eye doctor, you're probably aware that there are a variety of eye specialists to choose from. Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians are all eye doctors.

An optometrist is a doctor who specialises in eye exams, diagnosis, and treatment. An ophthalmologist is a medical specialist who specialises in the treatment of eye diseases by medicinal and surgical procedures. 

The distinctions between optometry and ophthalmology are not well understood. Both ophthalmologists and optometrists play vital roles in eye care, yet their training and skills are vastly different.

Optometrists are eye doctors who specialise in primary vision care, which includes everything from vision testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision problems. After four years of Bachelor of Optometry school and at least three years of college, they are awarded a doctor of optometry (OD) degree. They can practise optometry, during their Bachelor of Optometry degree, which include doing eye exams and vision tests, recommending and distributing corrective lenses, and identifying specific diseases.

A medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision treatment is known as an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists and optometrists have different levels of training and diagnoses and treatments. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has finished their medical education as well as eight years of extra medical training. They are also licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye disorders conduct eye surgery prescribes eye corrections and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses.

While all ophthalmologists are educated to treat all types of eye disorders and conditions, others specialize in a particular medical or surgical specialty. A subspecialist ophthalmologist is one who specializes in a specific area of ophthalmology. They typically complete one or two years of additional, more in-depth instruction known as post-secondary education.

1. What exactly is an optometrist and what do they do?

For normal eye care, an optometrist is the primary health care practitioner.

a) Their Degree of Education

A Bachelor of Optometry typically lasts four years, depending on the school and curriculum. The following topics are covered in the Bachelor of Optometry degree's curriculum:

  • Techniques for doing a basic and advanced eye examination
  • case studies and client history
  • additional natural science (including optics) and pharmacology courses
  • During the final 1 to 2 years of the optometry degree, students will receive full-time clinical experience as a resident.

b) Salary scale

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median compensation for optometrists in 2018 was $111,790.

They offer a variety of services and can treat a variety of ailments.

You can go to an optometrist for a yearly eye check-up, to refill a prescription for eyeglasses or contacts, or to get medicine and treatment for specific eye disorders. Optometrists, unlike ophthalmologists, are not surgical specialists and cannot treat more serious eye problems.

c) The following services are provided by optometrists:

  • Eye exams, including eye health education and diagnosis of eye diseases prescriptions for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other visual aids medical treatments.
  • After-surgery eye care
  • For eye disorders, optometrists can prescribe controlled drugs. Some optometrists can also conduct minor procedures, depending on state law.
  • Removal of foreign bodies from eyes, laser eye surgery, and other surgical treatments are optionally included in their responsibilities.

2. What exactly is an ophthalmologist, and what does he or she do?

A medical doctor who specialises in surgical eye treatments is known as an ophthalmologist.

a) Their Degree of education

Before beginning an ophthalmology residency program, all ophthalmologists must complete a full medical program. Depending on different universities and curriculum, an ophthalmology residency program may be of 4 to 7 years. The residency program expands on the following topics:

  • Internal and external eye disease diagnosis and treatment
  • Subspecialty training for eye diseases
  • ophthalmology surgical training for a wide range of eye problems
  • In addition to hands-on patient care, ophthalmology residency training includes executing surgical operations under senior supervisors. 
  • A one-year internship is usually followed by a residency program.

b) Salary scale

According to Compensation.com, the average salary for ophthalmologists in 2018 was $290,777.

They offer a variety of services and can treat a variety of ailments.

An ophthalmologist can provide the same services as an optometrist, such as routine eye exams and prescription refills. An ophthalmologist, on the other hand, can conduct eye surgery for a variety of diseases and conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and strabismus surgery, among others.

c) The following services are provided by ophthalmologists:

  • Medical and surgical treatment of eye illnesses, as well as post-surgery rehabilitation services
  • Ophthalmologists must complete an additional (8-12years) of training in order to perform detailed surgical operations for eye problems. 
  • Ophthalmologists will focus on this area as it is their primary area of service and expertise.

3. How do you know which optometrist to go with for your eye care?

 The service you require will determine whether you visit an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

  • Routine eye care, such as a yearly eye exam or refilling an eyeglass, contact lens, or eye medicine prescription, should be done by an optometrist.
  • For medical and surgical treatment of significant eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and laser eye surgery, see an ophthalmologist.

You can pursue an Optometry course under various health science courses in India. ITM IHS offers different health science Courses and the Bachelor of Optometry is one of the courses. About  Optometry course details - it helps you understand the concepts theoretically by focusing mainly on the practical aspects of it. A Bachelor of Optometry degree makes you career-ready with intensive training as you go through Optometry course details. 

The last semester of Bachelor of Optometry is determined to be an internship, which guarantees you a 100% placement. 

Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians are all eye care specialists with varying levels of education, specialisation, and practice scope.

Big story short, Optometrists are eye care specialists who can inspect, diagnose, and treat eye problems medically. Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons who specialise in operations involving the eyes. Both of these professions help you deal with eye care and serve humanity.

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