Optician, Optometrist, or Ophthalmologist?

After earning his MD from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Dr. William Martin completed his residency at Philadelphia’s Wills Eye Hospital and then undertook additional advanced training abroad at the Trousseau Eye Institute in Paris and the Moscow Eye Institute. Board certified in cataract surgery and laser vision correction, Dr. William Martin serves as the medical director and chief surgeon for OptiVue, an Ohio vision care center with three offices in the Greater Toledo area.

There are three different professionals in the eye care field: opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists. Opticians, sometimes called dispensing opticians, are technicians who help customers select eyeglass frames and then prepare the prescription lenses for them. Opticians have at least a high school diploma, as well as some formal training, often provided by a community college.

Optometrists earn a doctor of optometry (OD) at a specialized 4-year school; most ODs also have earned bachelor’s degrees. They are qualified to examine the eyes and other components of the visual system. In addition to prescribing corrective lenses, they diagnose and treat diseases and injuries of the eye.

Ophthalmologists are fully trained and qualified physicians, either medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathy (DO). In addition to four years of undergraduate education and four years of medical school, they also serve as interns for a year, generally in a hospital, followed by three or more years of residency, during which they learn their specialty. Ophthalmologists specialize in the medical and surgical treatment of disorders of the eye, including disease and injury, as well as manifestations of other systemic diseases. For example, people with diabetes generally visit an ophthalmologist annually to look for signs of diabetic retinopathy resulting from their disease.