Whether you need an annual eye exam or you suspect something is wrong with your eyes, the solution is to make an appointment with an eye doctor. However, this can be an overwhelming task if you do not know which eye doctor you should see. Understanding the difference between eye doctors will allow you to choose the doctor that is right for you.

There are two main types of doctors that can assist you with eye care: ophthalmologists and optometrists. Both doctors are useful but there are some fundamental differences between the two. Having the ability to distinguish between the types of doctors can help make your appointment more efficient and your diagnosis more accurate.

At Easy Pay Optical, we want you to have the best possible experience for your eye which is we have highlighted some key differences between optometrists and ophthalmologists. The main difference between these two doctors is how they are able to treat a patient and how much experience is required to become each type of doctor. While there are some notable differences between ophthalmologists and optometrists, they are both vital to maintaining eye health.


One of the main differences between ophthalmologists and optometrists is their level of education and training. Becoming an optometrist is a shorter process than that of an ophthalmologist. It typically takes 7 to 8 years to become an optometrist while becoming an ophthalmologist can take 13- 15 years.

A prospective optometrist completes a four-year Bachelor’s degree and then spends four years in an optometry program instead of medical school. Once the optometry program is completed, the students gain experience on how to conduct examinations and treat disorders. Some students choose to take another year to learn more through an optometric residency program.

An ophthalmologist spends four years completing a Bachelor’s Degree. Upon graduating, they go to medical school for an additional four years. An internship is typically completed the following year, and then the prospective ophthalmologist completes a residency for the next three years. Many ophthalmologists participate in a one or two-year fellowship to specialize in a specific area of medicine. Ophthalmologists can specialize in fields such as pediatrics (treating children), cataract surgery (removal of a cloudy lens), or treatment of glaucoma (diseases that damage the optic nerve).

Job Duties

Optometrists are not surgeons or medical doctors, but they are healthcare professionals that assist in general eye care. Optometrists are osteopathic doctors which means that they treat a condition by examining the health of the patient’s entire body. Optometrists are typically the first doctor you would see if you are experiencing eye problems or need an annual exam. The doctor can examine and test a patient’s vision, adjust glasses and contact lenses, treat certain eye conditions, and prescribe medications to manage a patient’s symptoms. If an optometrist is unable to diagnose or treat a specific condition, they will refer the patient to an ophthalmologist that is specialized in a certain area of medicine.

Ophthalmologists have an MD that indicates that they are a doctor of medicine. This type of doctor can also execute general eye care such as fitting glasses, treating eye symptoms, and diagnosing eye problems. Since an ophthalmologist has significantly more experience than an optometrist, they are able to perform more services including treating common eye disorders and providing certain surgical procedures.

Anath Foundation

A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

Anath Foundation

A portion of your purchase is donated to the Anath Foundation to help families on their cancer journey. Learn more about the impact of your purchase!

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