When it comes to eye care, there are 3 O’s who are here to help you take care of your eyes. Ophthalmologist’s, Optometrists and Opticians. Although people often use the title Obstetrician when talking about eye care, that Doctor takes care of pregnant women.
Ophthalmologist – This is a Doctor who has gone to medical school and chose the eyes as their specialty. They have gone through full medical training and are actual medical Doctor’s who can prescribe drugs while some can perform eye surgery as well. Generally in Canada you would be referred to an Ophthalmologist and they would be able to diagnose and treat a serious eye problem such as Glaucoma, cataracts, detached retinas and severe eye injuries. You generally don’t just walk into an Ophthalmologist office, you are usually referred by your regular doctor or Optometrist.
Optometrist – This is not a medical Doctor but someone who has a degree in Optometry and usually a science degree as well. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases. You would see an Optometrist and they would give you a prescription for obtaining eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you had a serious eye condition that was beyond their scope of practice they would refer you to an Ophthalmologist who would either attempt to fix your eye problem on their own or work with your Optometrist to get your eyes taken care of.
Optician – An Optician goes to school to learn how to properly interpret prescriptions so that they are able to design, verify and fit eye glasses and contact lenses. Many Optician’s also learn how to manufacture and repair eyeglasses. In Alberta an Optician can also perform a site test with the aid of some special equipment but they are not allowed to diagnose or treat eye health conditions.