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Optometrists vs. Ophthalmologists: Who Is Best for You?

Optometrists vs. Ophthalmologists: Who Is Best for You?

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Do you know that there are mainly two types of eye doctors? They are called ophthalmologists and optometrists. There is no doubt that ophthalmologists and optometrists both play an essential role in providing good eye care to you. However, the level of expertise and training for each of these eye doctor types are quite different. Therefore, whom should you approach when it's time to get your eyes checked?

Here's some valuable information about these types of eye doctors that will help you distinguish among them. It will help you make an informed decision, i.e., who should you approach when someone dear to you is suffering from an eye disease.

Ophthalmologist vs. Optometrist

Who is an Ophthalmologist?

A medical doctor who specializes in vision care and the eye is called an ophthalmologist. They differ from optometrists in what they can diagnose, treat, and their level of training. They have completed medical college studies and at least 4-7 years of ophthalmology residency training, depending on the medical school and curriculum. A licensed ophthalmologist is eligible to practice medicine as well as surgery. They can diagnose and treat all types of eye diseases, carry out eye surgery, and prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct vision problems. Some ophthalmologists are even involved in scientific research on the cures for vision disorders.

They offer complete eye care services like:

  • Vision services, including eye exams
  • Diagnosis and treatment of multiple eye conditions linked to other medical conditions, e.g., diabetes or arthritis
  • Medical eye care for conditions like iritis, glaucoma, and chemical burns
  • Surgical eye care for conditions like trauma, cataracts, crossed eyes, glaucoma, and other vision problems
  • Plastic surgery for raising droopy eyelids and smooth out wrinkles

Who is an Optometrist?

An optometrist can be thought of as someone who takes care of the primary health of your eye. After college, they typically spent four years in a professional program to get a bachelor in optometry degree. Some optometrists also get additional clinical training or a special fellowship after optometry school.

They focus on regular vision care services such as

  • Perform vision tests and routine eye exams
  • Prescribe for contact lenses and eyeglasses
  • Provide vision therapy and low-vision aids
  • Perform pre-surgical and post-surgical care

Which doctor is the best for your eye care?

The answer to this question depends on your preferences. If you need primary eye care, an optometrist is a better choice. If required, they may refer you to an ophthalmologist. In contrast, if you need treatment for critical conditions like cataract surgery or glaucoma, seeing an ophthalmologist might be more appropriate.

Always keep in mind that one type of eye doctor is in no way superior to the other. Typically, they both work together to achieve good eye health for you.

Can optometrists diagnose eye diseases?

Optometrists can help you get a vision test, get contact lenses, or get prescription glasses. They can also help you with vision therapy and eye exams. Skilled optometrists can also detect critical eye injuries and diseases in a patient and refer them to the necessary specialists, usually an ophthalmologist, for a definitive diagnosis. Optometrists are good at diagnosing and treating farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism.

Can an optometrist do cataract surgery?

Optometrists have a license to perform eye exams. They are trained to find and treat certain eye conditions. They can also perform pre-op and post-op care. However, they are not medical doctors, so they do not perform the surgery to remove cataracts. Only ophthalmologists perform cataract surgery.

Can an optometrist become an ophthalmologist?

Theoretically, the answer to this question is yes. Any optometrist can become an ophthalmologist with the appropriate education and training in ophthalmology. However, we rarely see people doing this, as optometry is an extensive area of practice with immense opportunities.

What can an ophthalmologist do?

An ophthalmologist is qualified to diagnose and treat all eye diseases and prescribe contact lenses and eyeglasses to correct your vision problems. They can also conduct eye surgeries if needed.

Netralayam is one of the best eye hospitals in Kolkata. If you are looking for the best ophthalmologists in Kolkata, we would be among the preferable options. Please give us a call or book an online appointment with our expert eye doctors today itself.



The mission of Netralayam is to provide tertiary level superspeciality eye care service of highest quality to all sections of the society through a team of competent, committed and compassionate professionals in a patient-friendly environment.

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