Your vision is a precious asset that you expect to stay relatively consistent throughout your life. Why wouldn’t you? The fact is, vision and long-term eye health are susceptible to several factors, including UV exposure. So who do you call when you need comprehensive care? You have choices, but this can only create confusion. Here, we break down how optometry and ophthalmology differ.
A good place to start pointing out the differences between the two types of “eye doctors” is with educational requirements and training.
Optometric training involves a four-year degree program in the sciences before a four-year educational program centered around optometry services and common eye conditions. A Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree is the culmination of this combination of programs.
An ophthalmologist degree is a medical degree that involves undergraduate education, four-years in medical school, and post-graduate training in the form of internship and residency programs, which are usually another four years under the belt. Essentially, an ophthalmologist can perform the same basic vision-care services as an optometrist and then some. However, not all ophthalmologists do.
So Who do you See?
If the extent of care that is needed includes routine exams that help you determine if you need corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses or an upgrade to your existing prescription, an optometrist may be the eye doctor that you see on a regular basis.
It is important to obtain care from an ophthalmologist if you have a medical condition such as diabetes. This chronic disease has been linked to vision troubles and serious eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy.
Other reasons to see an ophthalmologist include the suspicion or existence of eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, or glaucoma. Ophthalmologists are also able to offer comprehensive care for more common conditions, such as dry eye syndrome. Also, an ophthalmologist is the eye doctor who can operate on your eyes.
On a final note, there are instances in which a person may receive care from both an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. The two often work together to co-manage care that requires more than the basics.
For the full-spectrum of ophthalmic care, including cataract surgery and glaucoma management, call Shenandoah LASIK & Cataract Center in Winchester, VA.
Posted in: Eye Health