V is for Vision

Optometrist vs. Opthalmologist

Ophthalmologist Bradley Sandler, M.D.

Maintaining a lifetime of good vision starts with regular visits to an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Both are eye doctors, so how do you choose which professional is right for you? Both optometrists and ophthalmologists examine eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lens. Both are trained to detect and diagnose eye diseases.

If your eyes are healthy, the type of eye doctor you choose is a matter of personal preference. “Ask your friends and family members who their eye doctor is,” advised Bradley Sandler, M.D., an ophthalmologist with Solano Eye Specialists in Fairfield and Vacaville. “A good referral is often the best way to find an eye doctor. But if you have a vision problem, or family history of eye disease, you may want to visit an ophthalmologist.”

An optometrist has earned the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree after completing four years of optometry school after college and is trained to examine eyes for both vision and health problems. In California, optometrists can prescribe medications, perform certain procedures and order medical tests for the diagnosis of conditions or diseases of the eye. If a serious condition is detected, the optometrist may refer the patient to their primary care physician for referral to an ophthalmologist.

An ophthalmologist is a medical (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. He or she has received at least eight years of medical training after college and is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. Ophthalmologists care for all eye diseases and some have additional, in-depth training to hold subspecialties in diseases such as glaucoma, retina, cornea care or pediatrics.

To keep your eyes healthy, adults should plan to visit an eye doctor every two years.

Opticians Fit Eyeglasses

Another medical professional is the optician—a technician trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lens and frames or contact lens prescribed by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Opticians do not test vision or diagnose and treat eye diseases.

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