We all have to visit the eye doctor sometimes.
Looking around, so many of us wear glasses with increasing (or negatively decreasing) powers.
If not glasses, so many of us wear contact lenses, too.
Prescribing your spectacles to you and doing routine check-ups on your eyes is the job of an optometrist.
They are full-fledged doctors of the human eye.
These eye specialists are essential to the community, and especially to the people who struggle with eye problems such as farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism.
Who is an optometrist?
In the simplest of terms, optometrists are doctors of the human eye, as mentioned before.
They are qualified medical professionals who are required to have completed pre-professional undergraduate education, as well as four years of professional medical training.
Going to a college of optometry is a must, which leads students of these colleges to a degree in optometry.
While it seems as though optometry is a profession where all you do is help a person see better, that is only what it means for it on the outsides of it.
However, the impact that eye specialists have on the lives of individuals is far more full.
Helping a person see better changes the person’s life.
Somebody who couldn’t drive earlier because she was unable to see very well can drive well with the correctly prescribed glasses.
A child sitting on the last bench, who is unable to understand what’s written on the board in the front, will stop having trouble with it when prescribed eyeglasses with the correct power.
These are just a few things in a person’s life that an optometrist is in charge of mending; there’s so much more.
However, there are also other things on the technical side of it.
What is an optometrist’s job?
According to CNNMoney’s list of top 100 jobs in America, being an optometrist ranks number 12 of all jobs in America.
The role of one is to examine the eyes, often by conducting tests on the same to examine their condition.
Following this, they prescribe spectacles or contact lenses with the apt power to help these people see better.
These eye doctors cover a variety of functions as eye doctors, which are apart from only prescribing glasses to those who need them.
They also examine and treat diseases of the eye, identify and treat conditions of the eye, and are also responsible for the well-being of the visual system and identifying and treating any problems with it.
These eye doctors also take care of any injuries taken to the eye.
These eye doctors also advise their patients on matters relating to the eye, in terms of surgeries required, concerning patients’ lifestyles and occupations.
Becoming an optometrist
The first few steps to go into the field of optometry are the educational ones.
Once an individual has successfully attained the necessary educational qualifications, a period of field training ensues.
Following this, there are work-based assessments, and you pass to become an optometrist finally after you pass a practical test.
Going into the field of optometry requires an undergraduate degree, and then professional graduation in optometry, which is generally of four years.
The undergraduate degree must preferably be in either Biology, Chemistry or Physiology, while the professional medical degree one is a degree in optometry.
The next step in the process, as mentioned before, is field training.
This entails following an optometry-practicing doctor around the workplace to learn and experience the way they do things.
The rest remains, as mentioned before.
Different types of eye specialists
Optometrists are not the only eye specialists or eye doctors to exist.
There do exist other types of eye specialists.
These are ophthalmologists and opticians, where the former are eye doctors and specialists while the latter are not doctors but spectacle specialists, in the mildest way of saying.
We will now go into the details of how both of these differ from optometry.
Optometry vs. Ophthalmology
Optometrists and ophthalmologists are both medical professionals, i.e., eye doctors.
Both of these types of eye doctors conduct tests on the eyes and can prescribe medicines and glasses to patients if and when required.
The difference between the two is that ophthalmology requires you to have a lot more medical background than optometry.
Optometry requires a medical master’s degree in optometry, preceding which should be an undergraduate degree in a regular science subject.
Ophthalmology, on the other hand, requires you to have had eight years of medical school, which includes a one-year internship and a three-year residency.
Ophthalmologists are also licensed to conduct any surgery for which they’ve had training, while optometry degrees do not give you so much liberty on the surgery front.
While it also depends on the laws ruling your state as to if you can perform surgery (if you choose optometry), there are few exceptions where there are optometrists who perform surgery.
This is a severe minority, but it exists.
It so happens sometimes that optometrists may examine you and refer you to an ophthalmologist who is licensed to conduct surgeries if you need one.
Pre- and post-operative care can remain in the hands of the optometrist.
Ophthalmologists can also take care of eye problems caused because of other diseases.
On the whole, ophthalmologists can do more surgeries and even treat problems of the eye related to other conditions.
This is the crucial difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists.
Optometrists vs. Opticians
The key difference between optometrists and opticians is that one is an eye doctor, and the other is not.
Yes, optometrists and opticians are both responsible for the well-being of your eyes, but in two very different ways.
An optometrist’s job is to diagnose problems in your eyes if there are any and treat these by prescribing medication or eyeglasses.
Opticians, on the other hand, are the people that come after these prescriptions.
In other words, opticians are the people to whom you give your prescriptions for glasses.
They are the people who are in charge of providing you with visual aids, i.e., your glasses and contact lenses.
Yes, opticians are eye specialists – not for treating the eyes but providing you with the aids to do so.
They do not go to medical or optometry school but get a diploma, certificate, or degree of 1 or 2 years in optics.
An optician’s job is to help you find the right eyeglasses or contact lenses to best suit your visual treatment.
In this way, optometrists starkly differ from opticians.
The Bottom Line
To conclude, optometrists are medical professionals or eye doctors who have a master’s degree in optometry.
They conduct routine check-ups on the eyes and have the training to diagnose and treat diseases and other such problems of the eyes.
Becoming an optometrist requires a bachelor’s science degree, with a master’s degree in optometry, some training in the field, a few assessments, and passing a final practical test.
There are other types of eye specialists, which are ophthalmologists and opticians, which both differ from optometry in their own ways.
Optometry is a good field in medicine and also pays quite well.
Aside from this, it is a fulfilling job; the years of education pay off when you can make a difference in someone’s life by doing something as simple as helping them see better.