The 3 “Os” of eye care are Ophthalmologists, Optometrists, and Opticians. All three professional groups are trained to provide eye care services. The extent of their training determines what diagnostic, therapeutic and dispensing services they can provide.
Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons and medical physcians that received training in medical school. In order to become an ophthalmologist one must first complete:
- Four years of college
- Four years of medical school
- At least one year of internship as a practicing medical/surgical physician
Once these objectives have been achieved the three years of hospital-based training dedicated to the surgical and medical care of eye disorders.
Ophthalmologists measure for glasses and contact lenses and can treat all medical and surgical eye conditions and qualify for full hospital surgical privileges.
Optometrists are doctors of optometry. Optometrists attend two to four years of college, four years of optometry school and are not required to have four years of medical school education or medical/surgical internship training.
Optometrists measure for glasses and contact lenses and prescribe optical corrections with the ability to diagnose and treat some eye health conditions. In some states, optometrists may dispense selected eye medications to diagnose and treat eye disorders. Optometrists generally do not perform surgery.
Opticians are trained to fit and dispense optical aids. Licensing requirements for opticians vary from state to state. Training could be as extensive as two years of opticianry school to as little as an opticianry preceptorship without any schoolroom training. Opticians cannot measure optical corrections or perform eye examinations or treatments.
are limited to dispensing glasses, contact lenses and optical aides provided they have a valid prescription from a qualified ophthalmologist or optometrist.