Difference Between Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

Who is the person you go to when you have trouble with the frame of your glasses? Whom do you contact when you feel that your vision is deteriorated and your present glasses are not quite right for you? And who is the person qualified enough to diagnose and treat problems (ailments) associated with your eyes? The answers to these three questions will take you to three different persons known as optician, optometrist, and an ophthalmologist. Knowing the differences between these three gentlemen, especially ophthalmologist and optometrist, is prudent for someone with weak vision as he then knows whom to contact when in trouble.


An ophthalmologist is the doctor of eyes. He has done specialization in ailments associated with eyes, and is qualified to have the title of MD. They know all about internal structure of the eyes and can provide help and assistance in case of injury to eyes. They are also the persons who are trained to diagnose and treat various eye ailments. Ophthalmologists have been trained to perform surgery of eyes, and correct abnormalities or deficiencies that eyes develop in case of some people.

An ophthalmologist is a doctor and specialist just like a cardiologist, in terms of heart, and a dentist, in terms of teeth and denture. He is qualified and trained to tackle all problems associated with your eyes such as ailments, vision and injuries. He is licensed by state authorities to perform surgery on your eyes and to prescribe medications to cure various ailments.


An optometrist is a person qualified and trained in devices for better vision such as glasses and lenses. He is, as such, a doctor in optometry, and uses the title OD against his name. He tests the vision and prescribes lenses of specific power to a person. Though, he can detect and suggest remedies for some eye diseases, he usually refers a person to an ophthalmologist for proper treatment, and confines himself to prescribing correct glasses and lenses only.

Some time people may wear correct glasses, yet have difficulties in vision because of underlying medical conditions, such as cataract, glaucoma, astigmatism and other retinal disorders. Optometrists are trained to detect these problems and refer to ophthalmologist depending upon severity.

They are primary eye care specialists, who are vital in eye care and health. Usually optometrists are the first eye specialists a person sees, before he is referred to other professionals known as ophthalmologists.

In brief:

Difference Between Ophthalmologist and Optometrist

• While ophthalmologists are full fledged doctors of your eyes, optometrists are trained personnel, who are there to prescribe correct glasses and lenses to people with poor vision

• If you have trouble with your vision, you go to an optometrist who diagnoses your vision and prescribes glasses. If however, there is an underlying eye problem, he may refer you to an eye doctor, who is known as an ophthalmologist.

• While an ophthalmologist can perform surgery, an optometrist can at best diagnose ailments, but refers patients to eye doctors.

• An optometrist is known as a doctor of optometry.