Optometry or Ophthalmology?
The doctors of Southland Eye Associates are Doctors of Optometry.
When it comes to eye care, the terms optometry and ophthalmology are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct fields within eye health.
Both optometrists and ophthalmologists play vital roles in providing eye care. Let’s dive deeper into these two eye health professions to clarify the distinctions.
An optometrist, representing the field of optometry, is a healthcare professional who specializes in the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of vision conditions and eye diseases that do not require surgical intervention. After completing an undergraduate degree, optometrists undergo four years of professional education in optometry school to earn an O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) degree, and many complete an additional year of residency to further their skills in a specific area of vision care.
Optometrists provide primary vision care, are capable of diagnosing all types of eye and eye health disorders, and, generally speaking, can treat diseases that do not require surgical intervention. When an optometrist identifies a disorder beyond the scope of her training, the patient is referred to a specialist. After the specialist completes the appropriate treatment, the patient returns to the optometrist for ongoing primary eye care. This is termed “co-management” of the patient.
Optometrists routinely diagnose the most common eye disorders such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia. Optometrists regularly diagnose eye diseases including, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, double vision (diplopia), conjunctivitis, and more.
On the other hand, ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of all types of eye diseases and performing eye surgeries. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who specializes in eye and vision care. They spend a minimum of eight years in medical training after receiving an undergraduate degree.
The world of eye care isn’t only optometrists and ophthalmologists; there are also opticians. Opticians, although not eye doctors, play a significant role in eye care as they design and fit eyeglass lenses, frames, and more for corrective eyewear, working closely with both optometrists and ophthalmologists.
In summary, optometry and ophthalmology are two separate fields that work collaboratively to maintain overall eye health.