Types of eyecare professionals

What is an ophthalmologist?
An ophthalmologist is either a medical doctor (M.D.) or an osteopathic physician (D.O.) who specializes in comprehensive eye care and provides examinations, diagnosis, and treatment for a variety of eye disorders. Ophthalmologists are skilled in all facets of eye care, from prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses to performing intricate eye surgery. Many also choose to specialize in one particular disease or portion of the eye (i.e., glaucoma specialist or cornea specialist).

What is an optometrist?
An optometrist is a doctor of optometry (O.D.) but not a medical doctor. Optometrists can examine, diagnose and manage many visual problems and eye disease, and are specially trained to test vision in order to prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses.

What is an optician?
An optician is a technician who fits, adjusts, and fills the prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

What is an ocularist?
An ocularist is a technician who makes ophthalmic prosthesis.
Although they do not test vision for prescribing glasses or contact lenses, family practitioners or general internists may medically treat some eye conditions.

When are eye examinations necessary?
During an eye exam, an eye doctor reviews your medical history and completes a series of tests to determine the health of your eyes. The information from an eye exam may lead to medical procedures or prescriptions. Eye examinations should take place periodically as follows:

By age 4    All children should have their eyes checked by age four. If there is family history of childhood vision problems, or if the child has a wandering, crossed, or other eye problem, his/her eyes should be checked earlier.

Before the age of 20    as recommended by a pediatrician or other physician

Between 20 to 40 years old    every 5 years, unless you experience any problems such as visual changes, pain, flashes of light, new floaters, or tearing, or if you sustain an injury to the eye.

Between 40 to 64 years old    every 2 to 4 years

Over 65 years old    every 1 to 2 years

•    African-Americans are at greater risk for glaucoma, and should have eye examinations every 3 to 5 years before the age of 40, and every 2 years after age 40.
•    Persons with diabetes are at risk for several eye disorders, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts, and should have eye examinations every year.


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