Types of Eye Doctors

Choosing an eye doctor is an important health care decision. After all, you will be trusting your eye doctor to safeguard your precious sense of sight and help you maintain a lifetime of good vision.

The first step in your decision is to understand that there are two types of eye doctors: optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Optometrists: Optometrists are medical professionals but not physicians who went to medical school. After college, they spent four years in a professional program and got a doctor of optometry degree. Some optometrists undergo additional clinical training after optometry school. They focus on regular vision care and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts. They:

  • Perform eye exams
  • Treat conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism
  • Prescribe and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses
  • Provide low vision aids and vision therapy
  • Diagnose eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and conjunctivitis
  • Prescribe medications for certain eye conditions
  • Participate in pre- or post-operative care for people who need eye surgery

Ophthalmologists: Ophthalmologists are physicians. They went to medical school. After medical school, they had a one-year internship then a residency of three or more years.

Ophthalmologists offer complete eye care services. These include:

  • Vision services, including eye exams
  • Medical eye care — for conditions such as glaucoma, iritis and chemical burns
  • Surgical eye care — for trauma, crossed eyes, cataracts, glaucoma and other problems
  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions related to other diseases such as diabetes or arthritis
  • Plastic surgery — for drooping eyelids and smoothing wrinkles

Choosing an Eye Doctor

When it comes to eye doctors, one type is not automatically better than the other. The right choice depends on your needs. The best eye doctor for you should:

  • Be recommended by your doctor, friends or family
  • Be appropriate to your vision problems; if you need routine eyeglass/contact lens care you have many choices. If you have a specific medical eye condition, you may want to choose an ophthalmologist.
  • Be someone you like and trust

For more information and to find the right eye doctor to fit your needs, contact Associated Retina Consultants at 602-242-4928 or associatedretinaconsultants.com.