Difference Between Ophthalmology and Optometry (With Table)

There are various branches of medicines and medical practices that it is common for someone to mistake two different practices as one. This is what happens between ophthalmology and optometry. They are very interrelated to each other and deal with the eye but are very different in various aspects.

Ophthalmology vs Optometry

The main difference between Ophthalmology and Optometry is that ophthalmology deals with surgery and treatment of diseases of the eye, whereas optometry deals with vision correction and mostly the vision system of the eye. These two professions are very close to each other, and so it is a very common mistake to see them as the same.

Ophthalmology is a branch of science and medicine that deals with complex situations like diseases of the eye, treatment, and even surgical practices. The practitioner of ophthalmology is known as an ophthalmologist, and they require 8 years of studies after high school and an additional 2-3 years of practice.

Optometry is a branch of science and medicine that deals with the vision branch of an eye, which means they help in contact lens correction, glasses correction, and even in giving vision therapy. The practitioner of optometry is known as an optometrist, and they cannot perform surgery or suggest any treatment for eye diseases. A clear idea of an Optometrist is acquired by people who wear glasses since it is the same person who helps to try on lenses and helps in correcting contact lenses.

Comparison Table Between Ophthalmology and Optometry

Parameters of Comparison




It is a branch of medicine that deals with surgery and diseases related to the eye.

It is a medical profession that deals with the vision system.


High school plus 8 years of higher studies and further 2-3 years of practice.

After school, 4 years of college, and 4 years of optometry school with one-year optional residency.


Ophthalmologists deal with eye surgery, ocular disease management, etc.

Optometrists deal with primary eye care and treatment of diseases.

Mutual relationship

Refers to an optometrist for contact lens fitting, vision therapy, etc.

Refers to an Ophthalmologist for further treatment, surgery, etc.


It is more than that of an Optometrist.

It is less than that of an Ophthalmologist.

What is Ophthalmology?

Ophthalmology is the branch of science that deals with the eye, its pathways, diseases, and treatment with medicine, therapy as well as surgery. It extensively covers all the parts of the body (brain) that are related to the eye. An ophthalmologist is a person who practices ophthalmology and is ready to deal with diseases of the eye and perform surgery of visual pathways. An ophthalmologist has to complete high school and then attend eight years of studies related to ophthalmology. They further undergo two to three years of practice.

An ophthalmologist refers the patient to optometrists for some conditions when the patient requires a vision therapy optical, contact lens fitting, or any other such assistance. In comparison, it is clear that an ophthalmologist earns a lot more than an optometrist, and their salary could be even more than double of an optometrist. The reason for such high pay is obvious.

This is because an ophthalmologist has to undergo surgeries of an eye and related parts which is complex and crucial work. The two to three years of residency practice of an Ophthalmologist also includes training with patients and performing hands-on surgeries under the guidance and presence of an expert.

What is Optometry?

Optometry is a branch of science that deals with the visionary system of the eye. People who wear glasses must be aware of an optometrist. They help in carrying out eye tests and checkups to understand the reason power of an eye and suggest the recommended lens power for the correction of vision. An Optometrist is a person who underwent a study of optometry for four years in optometry school after 4 years of college and high school. They offer assistance in carrying out tests to check the vision power of a person and suggest the best lens for the patient’s eyesight. They have almost nothing to do with any other part of the eye.

An optometrist cannot perform eye surgeries or suggest treatments for any type of eye disease. In such cases, an optometrist suggests the patient follow up with an ophthalmologist for further treatment or surgeries if required. An optometrist helps in providing vision therapy, contact lens correction, low vision rehabilitation, or any other optical aid. Throughout their career, an optometrist is essentially required to continue the practice for the maintenance of their license. An Optometrist is of great help and must be rightly qualified and trained since they are closely related to suggesting the patient the correct lens required for their vision correction.

Main Differences Between Ophthalmology and Optometry

  1. Ophthalmology deals with the surgery and diseases of the eyes, whereas Optometry is the branch of medicine that deals with the vision system mostly.
  2. Ophthalmology requires an additional 8 years of study and 2-3 years of practice after high school. Optometry requires 4 years of college and 4 years of Optometry school after high school.
  3. The practitioner of Ophthalmology is called an Ophthalmologist. On the other hand, the practitioner of Optometry is called an Optometrist.
  4. An ophthalmologist refers a patient to an optometrist for contact lens fitting, vision therapy, etc. An optometrist refers a patient to an ophthalmologist for treatment or surgery.
  5. The salary of an Ophthalmologist is much more than that of an optometrist.


The distinction between ophthalmologist and optometrist can only be made when one has a knowledge of both professions very nicely. While on the one hand, ophthalmologists deal with the treatment of eye diseases, vision as well as surgeries, and optometrists just deal with vision correction and other related optical aid. The studies and years of practice of ophthalmologists and optometrists are completely different from each other, and so are their salaries. On average, an ophthalmologist earns more than an optometrist.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=WKVMAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT11&dq=difference+between+ophthalmology+and+optometry&ots=2kg4aEQB_b&sig=tuKOmVyj_O_EU30gsOv08OVEG2g
  2. https://www.aaojournal.org/article/S0161-6420(20)30897-6/fulltext