Ophthalmologist vs Optometrist

  • optometrists and opthalmologist

Most people have heard the terms optometrist and ophthalmologist. They are both eye care professionals, but they differ in their training and what they can do for patients. Depending on that eye conditions that you may be dealing with, it is important to know the difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists in order to get the best care possible.


  • Optometrists must receive four years of education at a school of optometry, in addition to completing an undergraduate program. Upon completion of their education and optometrist becomes a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). They can then apply with a state to be a licensed optometrist.

  • Ophthalmologists go to medical school for 4 years after their undergraduate studies. They then spend a year doing their internship, and at least another three years in residency. During their residency they learn more about ophthalmology, both in a university and hospital setting. An ophthalmologist can be either a medical doctor (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy (D.O.).

Treatment Options

  • Optometrists are able to provide routine vision exams. They can treat many vision problem and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts. They can diagnose a variety of eye conditions, and can, in some states, prescribe certain medications.

  • Ophthalmologists can also provide basic vision services, but they are able to provide some other types of care beyond that of an optometrist. Because of their training, ophthalmologists can both diagnose and treat any type of eye condition, even if the condition is caused or linked to a disease in another part of the body. They can prescribe a full range of medications and even perform surgery.

Although optometrists cannot provide as wide a range of treatment, they are usually more affordable than ophthalmologists. At Palm Beach Eye Center our optometrists and ophthalmologists work together to provide you with the best possible care.