As the musician Johnny Nash once said, “I can see clearly now; the rain is gone.” But to get that 20/20 vision, did Cliff visit an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or optician? Let’s find out.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor, or MD, who specializes in eye care. The title comes with eight whopping years of medical training: four years of medical school, plus an intern year and three years of residency. Ophthalmologists are licensed to diagnose and treat eye diseases, perform eye surgery, and prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses; they may also be involved in scientific research relating to the eyes. Some ophthalmologists also have sub-specialties, such as glaucoma, retina, plastic surgery, or pediatrics. These sub-specialties require an additional two years of training, also known as a fellowship.
An optometrist is not a medical doctor, but a Doctor of Optometry, or OD. Getting an OD requires four years of optometry school; after graduation, one is licensed to perform eye exams and vision tests, prescribe glasses and contacts, test for certain eye diseases, and prescribe medications for certain eye-related diseases.
Opticians are healthcare professionals who are trained to design and fit glasses, contacts, and other corrective devices. To become an optician, one must complete one to two years of schooling. They don’t do eye exams or vision tests themselves—they use prescriptions provided by MDs or DOs—and aren’t permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.