What Are The Differences Between An Optometrist And An Optician?
Optometrists and opticians are eye care professionals. Although they focus on taking care of the vision of their clients, they both have their own roles to fulfill. There are some tasks that only one can perform so differentiating between them is important, especially for those who are at the crossroads of deciding which career they should pursue.
Both optometrists and opticians are similar in that they are not medical doctors. Before discussing the differences between optometrists and opticians, let’s first take a look at the eye care professional who is the medical doctor—the ophthalmologist.
Ophthalmologists are eye care doctors who have finished college and underwent no less than eight years of formal medical training. Because they are physicians, they can diagnose and prescribe treatment for those suffering from vision problems. They can also conduct eye surgeries if these are needed to cure a problem.
There are ophthalmologists who further specialize in a particular area of ophthalmology after obtaining additional training through a fellowship in one of the subspecialty areas. They can focus on the cornea, retina, glaucoma and other specialties. They can also sub-specialize in treating eye diseases of particular age group such as among pediatric patients.
To differentiate between optometrists and opticians, let’s start by looking at what optometrists can do. Optometrists are healthcare service providers but they are not doctors. They go to optometry school for four years and obtain a doctor of optometry (OD) degree. With this degree, they can conduct eye exams, prescribe corrective lenses and diagnose eye problems. They can identify if a patient is suffering from:
- macular degeneration
- diabetic retinopathy
- and other abnormalities
In some states, they are allowed to treat vision problems like farsightedness, nearsightedness and astigmatism. They can also give vision therapy. While they cannot perform eye surgeries, they can provide pre-operative or post-operative care for those are set to go under the knife.
Opticians are eye professionals who are experts in eyeglass lenses and frames. They go to school for one or two years and obtain a certificate or diploma. They make sure that the prescription of the ophthalmologist or optometrist is filled correctly. They help clients choose the right lenses and frames that will not only correct their eye condition but will also fit their personality and lifestyle. They get accurate eye measurements to ensure that the right glasses are provided to the patient. They can also grind lenses and fix glasses and frames in the laboratory.
Aside from regular lenses and frames, opticians can also make prosthetic eyes and specialty devices like bifocals, trifocals and progressive lenses. They also help clients decide on the most appropriate specialty eyewear they need for their purpose. For example, they help them choose the best computer eyeglasses that would prevent eye strain, safety glasses to protect their eyes from work-related hazards and driving glasses that keep them safe while they are behind the wheel. They also provide fashion advice for clients who want to know which frames will suit their facial shape and their taste best.