Optician, optometrist, ophthalmologist: what’s the difference?

It’s likely that you’ve heard of an optician and quite possibly an optometrist and ophthalmologist too – and you probably already know, or will have guessed, that they are all eye healthcare professionals.

Each profession focuses on the eyes, but each has its own specialisms when it comes to eye care and eye health.

What is an optician?

The term optician tends to be associated with having the eyes tested but there are in fact two different types of optician with different qualifications, roles, and responsibilities.

An optician can either be a dispensing optician or an ophthalmic optician also known as an optometrist.

A dispensing optician is usually based in an optical shop or optician’s practice. Their role is to advise on and fit glasses and contact lenses working from the prescriptions written by an ophthalmic optician (optometrist) or ophthalmologist. They can also advise about vision care as well as wear and care of glasses and contact lenses. A dispending optician is not qualified to do eye tests or examine the eyes.

What is an optometrist?

An ophthalmic optician is also known as an optometrist or doctor of optometry. Optometrists test and examine the eyes, assess and provide vision prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses, and look for visual defects and underlying health conditions in the eyes.

Optometrists perform sight tests to determine short and long distance vision and will prescribe glasses or contact lenses if necessary from those tests. They can also check peripheral vision, focus, depth of vision, and ability to see colours correctly.

Optometrists are also qualified to check the overall health of the eyes. They will examine the inside and outside of the eyes and look for any signs of disease or injury. The examinations carried out by an optometrist can detect conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts. An eye pressure test is one of the procedures used to detect glaucoma.

Optometrists usually work in optician’s practices, eye clinics, and other health settings.

At Optomeyes, our optometrists carry out eye examinations including sight tests and a full health check of the eyes. One of these tests is scanning the eyes using an OCT camera to provide an enhanced examination of the eyes to spot any early indicators of problems.

An optometrist is not a fully qualified doctor, and they will, if necessary, make referrals to an ophthalmologist, a hospital eye clinic, or GP for certain conditions, illnesses, or abnormalities that they detect.

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a qualified doctor who is medically trained in eye care. Ophthalmologists treat cases of eye disease, disorders, infections, and injuries.

Ophthalmologists treat eye conditions and damage including cataracts, glaucoma, loss of or poor vision, diabetic eye conditions, genetic eye problems, macular degeneration, and eye trauma.

Ophthalmologists use medicine or surgery to treat eye conditions. Eye surgery performed by ophthalmologists includes cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, surgery for eye cancer, and refractive surgery to correct and improve vision in the form of laser eye surgery and lens surgery.

Ophthalmologists are usually based in specialist clinics and hospital eye departments.

Keep an eye on your eye health

Optomeyes has a team of qualified and experienced optometrists and dispensing opticians available to help you with your day-to-day eye health and vision as well advising with any concerns your may have.

We recommend you have a routine eye health check every two years to check both your vision and overall eye health. Check in with us anytime for advice about eye care, or if you have any concerns about the health of your eyes.

Get in touch today to book an eye test in Lee-On-The-Solent or Wickham with one of our experienced optometrists.

Alternatively email lee@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk or wickham@optomeyes-eyecare.co.uk and one of the team will call you back to book your appointment.