What’s the difference between an optician, optometrist, and an ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist, or “eye M.D.” is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. An ophthalmologist is licensed to practice both medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems. Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research on the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision disorders.
While ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions, some specialize in a specific area of medical or surgical eye care. This person is called a subspecialist. Subspecialties may include glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, neurology, plastic surgery and more.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases. This is probably who you are seeing for your eye appointments!
Opticians are simply technicians trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.
Source: American Association for Pediatric Opthalmology and Strabismus