Optometrists vs. Ophthalmologists vs. Doctor of Osteopathy
There are three types of eye doctors with really two being the most common eye doctors; Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Doctor of Osteopathy. There are similarities and differences between an ophthalmologist, optometrist and a doctor of osteopathy that define each specialty. Since all three are licensed to prescribe prescription eyewear in the form eyeglasses or contact lenses, many people get confused over what the differences are or don’t know there is a difference at all.
Ophthalmologist – MD: Provides Complete and Total Eye Care
An Ophthalmologist is a physician – MDs – doctor of medicine or medical doctors or DOs – doctors of osteopathy. MDs and DOs both complete a four year stretch or more of premedical college, medical school is four years, and then have one year of internship to complete before getting their doctorate degree.
After each has become a licensed physician, they will undergo their residency of three, or more, years. A residency involves specialty medical and surgical training specific to eye care.
Ophthalmologists provide patients with complete eye care services. Eye care included:
- A complete eye examination including a refraction and eye health.
- Medical – for conjunctivitis, iritis, glaucoma, chemical burns, other eye injuries, etc.
- Surgical – for crossed eyes, trauma, cataracts , glaucoma, lazy eye, tumors, etc.
- Diagnosis and treatment of they eyes having a condition related to a patient’s diseases, such as brain conditions ( multiple sclerosis /optic neuritis), diabetes ( diabetic retinopathy ), or arthritis (iritis), and many others.
- Preventive – Eye diseases and injuries services.
- Plastic surgery – some ophthalmologists specialize in reversing or lessening the effects of skin tumors or drooping eyelids, for improving a patient’s skin tone and smoothing out wrinkles around their eyes.
Optometrist – OD: Provides Eye Care and Vision Care Services
Optometrists are not required to attend medical school but the majority complete an undergraduate degree before they begin a four year rigorously specialized training program to obtain an optometry degree (OD). Some go on to complete a one-year postgraduate clinical residency for their specialist certification.
Optometrists are trained specifically to diagnose and treat conditions of the eye such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, lazy eye, and astigmatism. They are highly trained specialists capable of prescribing eyeglasses , contact lenses, low vision aids, vision therapy and eye exercises. They are also specialized in detecting and identifying retinal disease, glaucoma, and cataracts. They are also licensed to prescribe some medications to treat certain eye diseases.
Optometrists provide patients with highly specialized eye care services. Eye care included:
- Vision services such as complete eye examinations, treatment of eye conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and strabismus (crossed eyes).
- Diagnosis of eye conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, conjunctivitis, and other eye conditions that may be present.
- Prescribe medications for specific eye conditions (allowed in most states)
- Prevention of eye disease and eye injury services
- Prescribe and fitting of eye glasses and contact lenses
Optometrists are also certified and licensed to take part in pre-operative and postoperative care for patients before and after eye surgery.
It is common for ophthalmologists and optometrists at times work in the same office co-managing patients.
Osteopathy – DO: Provides Complete and Total Eye Holistic Care
Doctors of Osteopathy are medical doctors and have completed the same amount of education and training as an ophthalmologist. The difference between a DO and an MD is a DO will exhaust all efforts to treat a patient from a holistic approach where as an MD will take a medication or surgical course of action. A DO will take this same course of action only if comfortable all other possibilities have not achieved the appropriate amount of improvement(s).