Wednesday, December 3, 2008


People commonly confuse ophthalmologists with optometrists and opticians, but there are important differences among them.

Optician vs. Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist

Opticians are not responsible, nor trained, for eye examinations or treatment solutions for eye disorders. An optician, however, may take eye measurements to ensure the eyeglass prescriptions are correct and fit properly. Opticians will help you select frames and adjust them to fit comfortably. Opticians are masters of lenses. In most settings an optician is given a written eyeglass or contact lens prescription by an Optometrist. Opticians are not medically trained, rather they are technically trained. When you go to your local eyeglass boutique, more often than not, you will be working with an optician to find and fit your eyeglasses to your prescription. Opticians can not write your prescription. Opticians are licensed by the state and requirements vary from state to state. In most states, an optician must attend a 2 year college and/or have apprenticeship experience.

Optometrists are primary healthcare professional who perform annual examinations to treat any vision problems and detect signs of disease and abnormal conditions. Examinations may also include testing for glaucoma, cataract, color perception, depth, and the ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. An optometrist can diagnose eye disease and prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, and limited medications to treat eye diseases. In general, optometrists work more with patients who have “healthy” (i.e., without disease) eyes. The optometrist does not have a medical degree and does not perform surgery. An optometrist is, however, called a doctor of optometry in same states. An optometrist must have 2–4 years of undergraduate education plus a 4 year optometry degree. Optometrists must be licensed, have a Doctor of Optometry degree or Bachelor in Optometry, and pass a state board examination. Currently, in Malaysia, there are only three public universities that offered this optometry course which are National University of Malaysia (UKM), International Islamic University of Malaysia (UIAM) and MARA University Technology of Malaysia (UiTM).

Ophthalmologists must acquire a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery (MBBS), a broad knowledge of general medicine, and clinical training. This provides them with enough experience to diagnose and treat all types of eye disorders. Most MD's perform full eye exams and can perform a wide variety of surgeries, such a refractive, cataract, muscular, or corneal transplants to name a few. If a person requires medical or surgical care for an eye disease or an eye injury, he or she will seek the assistance of an ophthalmologist. Your refractive laser surgeon MUST be an ophthalmologist. While both Ophthalmologists and Optometrists are both titled "Eye Doctors", it is the Ophthalmologist who is the Medical Doctor (MD).

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