Difference Between M.D. & O.D.

What is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?

The titles Ophthalmologist and Optometrist can be very confusing to most people. Hopefully the following will help clarify their similarities and differences.

Both an optometrist and ophthalmologist can provide a variety of eye care services. Although the most thought of service is prescribing glasses and contacts, both are qualified to diagnose a variety of eye diseases and disorders, such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachments, and macular degeneration. The presence of certain medical conditions can sometimes first be recognized by your optometrist or ophthalmologist. During an examination they are able to detect certain diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Other tests can be done, which may also reveal tumors or strokes.

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (M.D.) specializing in eye care. After the completion of four years of undergraduate study, an ophthalmologist must complete four years of medical school and spend a minimum of four years of residency (hospital-based training).

An optometrist has a degree of doctor of optometry. After completion of four years of undergraduate study, an optometrist must attend four years of optometry school.

Both an optometrist and ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat certain eye conditions. Drugs to treat certain eye disorders, such as pink eye, allergies, and glaucoma can be prescribed by both ophthalmologists and optometrists.

One main difference between an ophthalmologist and optometrist is that an ophthalmologist is trained to perform eye surgery. Whether the surgery be performed in a hospital setting, for instance cataract surgery, or an in office surgery, for instance laser surgery for an after cataract, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy, it is important to remember that only an ophthalmologist is qualified to perform surgery.

It is very important to have routine eye examinations even if your eyes seem healthy. By having a routine eye exam, not only will your optometrist or ophthalmologist help you obtain your best vision, but they can also detect many asymptomatic, yet treatable, eye diseases.