Difference Between An Optometrist And Opthalmologist - Monterey Bay Eye Center, Monterey, CA

Difference Between An Optometrist And Opthalmologist

Date posted: February 9, 2015   |   Tagged with:

optometrist-montereyBoth optometrists and ophthalmologists provide eye examinations and diagnose eye problems. However, it is important to note that there are some differences between the two. Below is an explanation of the differences between an ophthalmologist and optometrist:


An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing, treating and preventing eye conditions. They can also perform eye surgery. Ophthalmologists have completed at least 11 years of schooling. They are required to complete four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school and a residency in ophthalmology, which lasts at least three years. This residency includes training surgical and medical training in eye care. Ophthalmologists also have to pass a rigorous examination before they can legally practice.

Furthermore, some ophthalmologist complete a fellowship in a sub specialty area, such as plastic surgery, neurology and pediatrics. A fellowship usually lasts one or two years. This extra training allows ophthalmologists to take care of eye conditions that affect certain groups of people.

Ophthalmologists are qualified to diagnose and treat all eye conditions. They may also be involved in researching new treatments for eye diseases. Because ophthalmologist are medical doctors, they can treat medical conditions that cause or worsen eye problems. Diabetes and high blood pressure are examples of medical conditions that can cause eye problems. In fact, it is not uncommon for an ophthalmologist to be the first health care provider to diagnose someone with a serious eye condition.


Optometrists are often referred to as eye doctors. However, it is important to note that optometrists are not medical doctors. They have attended optometry school and earned a doctor of optometry degree, which typically takes about three or four years to earn. The coursework of an optometrist may include things such as vision therapy, ocular diagnosis and pharmacology. They are qualified to diagnose and treat several eye conditions.

Optometrists can also prescribe medications to treat certain eye conditions. However, they are not able to perform surgery. Optometrists focus solely on diagnosing and treating eye conditions.

Should I Choose An Optometrist Or Ophthalmologist?

Regular eye examinations are one of the keys to keeping your eyes healthy. Healthy vision is essential for driving, working and completing all of the other activities of daily living. Optometrists are highly-educated and highly-qualified. However, they do not have the same training and credentials as an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologist are able to give more comprehensive examinations. They are also more qualified to treat serious eye diseases. That is why many patients are referred to an ophthalmologist after going to the optometrist.

Even if you see an optometrist yearly, you should still see an ophthalmologist and get a complete medical examination by the age of 40. Furthermore, if you already have vision problems, then you will most likely need to see an ophthalmologist more often. Keep in mind that some practices have ophthalmologists and optometrist working together in the same practice.

There are many signs that suggest you are at risk for developing vision problems. This includes things such as temporary decreased vision, diabetes, misaligned eyes and loss of peripheral vision. It is very important for you to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you are at risk for developing vision problems. Treating vision problems early can usually prevent them from getting any worse. Ophthalmologists are committed to not only treating vision problems, but they also help prevent vision problems from developing.

Monterey Bay Eye Center proudly offers everything you need to achieve optimal vision. Our primary services consist of Laser Assisted Cataract Surgery, Premium Lens Implants, Glaucoma Evaluations and Diabetic Eye Care. Schedule and Appointment with a professional today!

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