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Difference Between Ophthalmology and Optometry

eye-glassesOphthalmology vs Optometry
A lot of people seem to have confusion when they go to defining the differences between Ophthalmology and Optometry. Though they are both concerned about eye care, there are also several other factors to the common misconceptions between the two. One of the main reasons for this confusion is the fact most often optometrists are considered eye doctors but they do not have a medical degree where as an ophthalmologists do.

The optometrists do receive a Doctor of Optometry Degree but this only entitles them to practice optometry and not medicine. Most generally the practice of optometry usually involves examining the eye for the prescription and dispensing of corrective lenses as well as the signs and non surgical management of some eye diseases such as cataracts. There are also huge state by state differences in the overall optometric basis of practice, with some of these states allowing use of more pharmaceutical agents then some other states.

The nature of an ophthalmologist’s practice on the other hand is generally broader. An ophthalmologist is an actual medical doctor that specializes in all areas of eye care including such things as diagnosis, management as well as surgery of the ocular diseases and other disorders of the eye.

Also there is a huge difference in the training aspect between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. An optometrist most generally will only have about seven years of schooling in a college of optometry. An ophthalmologist will receive a minimum of twelve years of education. This education usually includes four years of college, then four years of medical school, at least one year if not more years of general surgical and medical training, and finally they will have at least three years in eye residency program which is most generally hospital based. After all of this training there is at least one year, if not more, of a subspecialty fellowship.

Beyond the optometrists study of refractive errors the optometrists will also have limited exposure in training for those patients that have eye disorders or diseases of their eye. Ophthalmologists have a complete and full medical education on the other hand, and this is followed by extensive training in both the clinical and surgical training involved in ophthalmology. An ophthalmologist will also have hundreds of hours that is devoted to the care and treatment of a variety of patients.

An ophthalmologist will be more likely to suggest surgery while an optometrist will first exhaust other forms of potential treatments. Thus unless the problem is acute, an optometrist will prove to be more cost effective option for a routine eye care.


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