What is an Optometrist?

Optometrist office

An optometrist is an eye doctor who is highly trained to diagnose, plan and treat eye conditions. An optometrist can specialize in one of three areas of vision care: optometry, ophthalmology or pediatric practice. Optometrists perform surgeries of the eye as well as prescribe glasses, contact lenses and eye surgery for vision correction. The number of states where an optometrist practices varies widely. In most states, there is only one Optometrist office in a given area.

An optometrist degree means completing a master’s degree from an accredited university or college. An optometrist can specialize in one of the fields – ophthalmology, optometry or pediatrics. A licensed optometrist can prescribe corrective lenses and other eye wear as well as conduct basic eye examination and prescribe medications and surgical procedures. There are two kinds of Optometrist – clinical and prescriptive authority. A clinical optometrist gives prescriptions and refer patients to other doctors; while a prescriptive authority gives specific prescriptions and acts as a professional medical adviser to optometrists and other doctors.

What makes an optometrist different from other physicians?

An optometrist treats eye conditions by diagnosing, testing and prescribing treatments. He cannot dispense drugs or prescribe eye wear. So does a conventional eye doctor, just like an ophthalmologist or optometrist. But unlike an ophthalmologist or an optometrist, a conventional physician can dispense drugs such as lenses, frames and contact lens fittings.

An optometrist can perform different types of exams for different types of eye conditions. An exam called refraction is performed by an ophthalmologist. A Dr. Optometric will perform this exam in order to help the patient maintain proper eyesight. This is also done to diagnose problems in the eyesight and suggest corrective measures.

How is an optometrist different from an ophthalmologist?

A surgeon or an anesthesiologist is an independent elective physician who performs surgery. He is not an employee of any clinic, hospital or office. The scope of work of a surgeon includes performing invasive procedures and providing anesthesia for surgeries. He may work at a general or subspecialty facility. A licensed veterinary surgeon is an osteopathic physician who performs surgical procedures like discectomy and joint replacement and can be found at a college or university that specializes in ophthalmology, he is an independent practicing optometrist.

An ophthalmologist is trained as an ophthalmologist who has completed a four-year degree from an accredited university or school and has passed a rigorous certification exam given by either the American Board of Optometrists or the National Optical Association. After graduation, he must be re-licensed if he wishes to continue his practice independently. Optometrists can choose to specialize in various fields such as glaucoma, eye disorders, cataract and vision correction.

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