Do I Need to See an Optician, Optometrist, or an Ophthalmologist?

by | Apr 29, 2019 | eye Surgery

If you are busy searching for “ophthalmologist near me,” it is important to determine whether you need an ophthalmologist or another type of eye care professional. Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists have different roles to play in your eye care needs.

Optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians

An ophthalmologist has an MD or DO qualification. This means they received the same medical college education as a physician and completed an internship and ophthalmologist residency. They can treat various eye conditions and perform eye surgery.

An optometrist has an OD qualification and has completed four years of optometry school as well as certifications. They can diagnose eye conditions and provide certain types of treatment.

An optician has a technical job rather than a medical one. They are responsible for fitting prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. In many states, they require a license.

Medical treatment

An optometrist or an ophthalmologist can provide treatment for eye conditions such as an eye infection. If the treatment is highly specialized or requires surgery, you will probably need an ophthalmologist.

Specialized treatment includes care for conditions such as glaucoma. Ophthalmologists can also specialize in areas such as pediatric eye care.


Ophthalmologists are often required for surgical procedures. They are qualified to provide all eye surgery types. An optometrist may be able to perform surgery on your eyes, but this depends on the state in which you live, and the type of surgery in question.

An ophthalmologist might perform surgery, such as glaucoma surgery or cornea surgery. LASIK surgery also requires the services of an ophthalmologist.

Vision therapy

Vision therapy is an important part of eyecare and involves a series of eye exercises your physician will use to help improve your vision. This treatment, as well as eye rehabilitation, may be offered through ophthalmologists and optometrists.

An optometrist might only offer vision therapy and rehabilitation if they specialize in this area.


Ophthalmologists and optometrists are both qualified to perform diagnostic services. If you have a problem with your eyes or vision, and you are uncertain as to the cause, you can go to either of these professionals.

If you have had serious problems with your eyes before, and have required the services of an ophthalmologist, you may need to visit one again for your diagnosis.


You can have your eye exam performed at either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Either of these professionals is qualified to prescribe corrective eyewear.

To get the glasses or contact lenses, you will then go to an optician. Opticians do not perform examinations but are responsible for following the directions given on the prescription.

If you have a condition that requires medication, an ophthalmologist or optometrist can prescribe it for you.

Fitting lenses

Opticians do more than provide you with lenses. They will check to ensure the lenses fit correctly and test to ensure they are working. They can assist tasks such as choosing the correct frame for your lenses, adjusting as needed.


If you are not certain as to whether your eye conditions are serious or complex enough to require the care of an ophthalmologist, you can ask your optometrist. Because of this, an optometrist is often the first professional to visit for eye care.

An optometrist will be qualified to diagnose your eye condition and can tell you if you require treatment elsewhere. He or she can also offer advice and guidance on your various treatment options.


If necessary, your optometrist can refer you to an ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist might also provide a referral to another ophthalmologist for the specialized treatment they do not perform.

For example, not every ophthalmologist performs LASIK surgery. Your regular ophthalmologist can recommend a reliable professional for you if they do not perform it themselves.

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