art - the three o's

The Three O's - Who is in charge of your eyecare?

Visiting the eye doctor seems like a simple enough task, but in the world of eye care, titles and roles of professionals can be very confusing to the average person. Some people think they have been to the eye doctor, when in fact, they simply saw the optician. Or ask the Ophthalmologist about eyeglasses, and in most cases, they don't know eyeglasses. And then; where do Optometrists fit in?

Let's take a look at the 3 O's of eyecare and help you understand where each profession fits in to your life and eyecare. Each one is important, and each has their role. The confusing part is that there is overlap between professions...

Opticians are masters of lenses. In most settings an optician is given a written eyeglass or contact lens prescription by an MD (Ophthalmologist) or and OD (Optometrist). Whether it be reading glasses or prescription eyewear, an optician is trained to help. Opticians are not medically trained, rather they are technically trained. When you go to your local eyeglass boutique, more often than not, you will be working with an optician to find and fit your eyeglasses to your prescription. Opticians can not write your prescription.

Opticians are licensed by the state and requirements vary from state to state. In most states, an optician must attend a 2 year college and/or have apprenticeship experience.

Optometrists (O.D.) have attended a four year post graduate optometry school. They are qualified to perform general eye exams and also may fit eyeglasses and contact lenses if they so desire. The role of an optometrist can vary greatly depending on their chosen focus. Optometrists can prescribe a limited number of medications.

Ophthalmologists (MD) are actual medical doctors. They have attended medical school and completed a residency in Ophthalmology. Most MD's perform full eye exams and can perform a wide variety of surgeries, such a refractive, cataract, muscular, or corneal transplants to name a few. While both Ophthalmologists and Optometrists are both titled "Eye Doctors", it is the Ophthalmologist who is the Medical Doctor (MD).

So those are the 3 O's in eye care. Your optician is not an eye doctor, and your Ophthalmologist is probably not comfortable dealing with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Optometrists have a skill set that may fall into any of the other O's expertise, if they choose to focus on general optometry. But they may decide to have a focus that leans either towards eyewear or a medical setting, the choice is theirs.

As stated before, each "O" is important, and each has their role. The confusing part is that there is overlap between professions...

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