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Caitlyn Williams

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Published on: 29 Nov 2016 by caitlynw

Difference Between An Opthamologist, an Optometrist and An optician

Choosing an eye doctor is a crucial health care decision. After all, you will be putting your trust on your eye doctor to safeguard your precious sense of sight and help you in maintaining a lifetime of good vision.

A common question among healthcare professionals as well as the general public is the difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist and an optician. All the three provide eye care services. However, the levels of training and expertise, and the core competencies, are different for each type of eye care provider. It is important to understand what each of the “three Os” is qualified to do:


  • An Optometrist: An optometrist is an eye doctor who has earned the Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists examine eyes for both vision as well as health problems, and correct refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low vision care and vision therapy. Optometrists in Toronto are also licensed to prescribe medications to treat certain eye problems and diseases. The scope of the medical care that can be provided by optometrists is determined by state law.



An optometrist usually must complete a four-year college degree program in the sciences, plus four years of post-graduate professional training in optometry school.


  • An Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or an osteopathic doctor (DO) who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists in Toronto are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medications and perform eye surgery. They also write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses. Generally, Ophthalmologist Toronto complete four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship, and a minimum of three years of hospital-based residency in ophthalmology.

  • An Optician: An optician is not an eye doctor, but opticians are an important part of your eye care team. Opticians use prescriptions written by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist to fit and sell eyeglasses and other eyewear. In some states, opticians must complete an opticianry training program and be licensed. Other states don’t require opticians to obtain formal training or licensure. Some states allow opticians to fit contact lenses, generally after completing a certification program.



If your eyes are healthy and don’t require specialized medical or surgical treatment, the type of eye doctor to choose for a routine eye exam is a matter of personal preference.

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