When faced with vision problems, most people know it’s a good idea to head to an eye doctor. What many don’t realize, however, is that there are three main types of ocular professionals: opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists. Each one deals with certain needs, so when you book an appointment, you’ll need to consider the specific issues that you’re encountering. If you’re not sure which type of visual care you should be seeking, use this information to help you out.
Opticians are not medical doctors, explained Doctors of Optometry Canada.They are eye care specialists who have completed an intensive three-year technical program. Opticians carry out
a variety of tasks like fitting, crafting and distributing visual aids, like glasses and contact lenses, based on prescriptions provided by optometrists and ophthalmologists. Although they help patients with refractive errors see better, they do not diagnose or treat eye conditions, and are unable to provide prescriptions.
Optometrists, or Doctors of Optometry, act as primary care doctors for people seeking visual care. These medical professionals completed their Bachelors of Science degree (B.Sc) and then attended a four-year optometry program at an accredited university. Optometrists diagnose vision problems and eye disease, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses, and can also write certain prescriptions to treat eye disorders. They are trained in in diagnosing and treating refractive errors by non-surgical means, and have experience in providing post-operative care for LASIK and PRK patients. Optometrists also monitor conditions like diabetes and brain tumours which can contribute to eye problems.
For more in-depth medical needs, such as writing prescriptions for more complex ocular conditions and performing ocular surgery, optometrists work closely with and refer patients to ophthalmologists.
Ophthalmologists are physicians, either medical or osteopathic, who specialize in in medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, and in the prevention of eye disease and injury.In Canada, ophthalmologists complete four years of Medical School (MD degree), a one or two-year internship, and three to four years of ophthalmology residency. When they complete their studies, they must obtain board certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. They are qualified to provide a full spectrum of care, including routine eye exams, prescriptions for contact lenses and glasses, diagnosis and medical treatment of eye disorders and diseases, management of eye problems caused by systemic illness, and eye surgeries.
Some ophthalmologists specialize in very specific areas of visual care. These professionals are referred to as “subspecialists.” Many subspecialists focus on issues like glaucoma, plastic surgery, cornea problems, or pediatrics.
Different aspects of ocular health require the attention of a variety of professionals. Whatever your issue, there’s a specialist who is qualified to assist you.
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