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The Three O’s of Eye Care: Opticianry, Optometry and Ophthalmology

Updated: Jan 10

Eyesight is arguably the richest and most valuable sense that we can perceive.

As such, great efforts must be taken to preserve and when possible, improve it. It is therefore a job for not one but THREE eye care professionals: opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. Qualifications for these professions differ in education, training and credentials. Outlined below are the differences to watch for when selecting an optician, optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Let’s take a closer look at all three: Opticians: Licensed opticians have a college diploma (2-year program) that allows them to manufacture, fit, and dispense vision-corrective devices. These include glasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and other specialized vision devices. They are typically employed in retail optical stores or in private medical practices.

Optometrists: Optometrists are eye care professionals with a Doctor of Optometry Degree (4-year post-graduate program). They are general eye care practitioners with the ability prescribe and fit corrective vision devices as well as diagnose and treat certain eye conditions. They are best thought of as “family doctors” of the eye. When optometrists encounter a problem that requires advanced medical intervention such as surgery, they refer a patient to ophthalmology. Most optometrists are employed in a private practice setting.

Ophthalmologists: Ophthalmologists are surgical and medical specialists who graduate from medical school and complete an ophthalmology residency (minimum of 4 years). Many ophthalmologists choose to practice within a sub-specialty are of interest such as pediatrics, glaucoma, cataracts, retina, neuro-ophthalmology or ocular oncology. They are typically employed within a tertiary care setting (e.g. hospital, private clinic) and require a referral from a primary care provider (e.g. optometrist). Ophthalmologists therefore manage more complex cases which require advanced testing and expertise.

For more information about the “Three O’s” contact our eye doctors today at 905.607.8533. You can also fill out our contact form to request additional information online.


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