What’s the difference between ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians?
An ophthalmologist (M.D.) has a medical degree and is licensed to practice medicine and perform eye surgery. An ophthalmologist has had at least 12 years of education and training beyond high school and is qualified to diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform surgery, and prescribe glasses. Their focus is on the identification and treatment of eye diseases.
An optometrist (O.D.) has a degree in optometry. An optometrist has had at least 6 years of education and training beyond high school and is qualified to prescribe glasses and contact lenses and screen for eye diseases. Their focus is on the improvement of vision for people with healthy eyes but who require corrective lenses for best vision. However, they will also treat certain medical conditions of the eye.
Opticians usually have a combination of college (or two years of opticianry school) and on-the-job training. Opticians work in optical shops and are trained to fit and dispense glasses based upon a prescription from a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. In Virginia, opticians are licensed and certified by the American Board of Opticianry.