Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist: Choosing Your Eye Care Provider

If you’ve ever needed to find an eye doctor, you probably know that there are numerous distinct sorts of eye specialists. Both optometrists and ophthalmologists are all eye care professionals. This article will look at the education as well as various requirements, pay, scope of practice, and services provided by optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist
Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist


For normal eye care, an optometrist is the primary health care practitioner.

Education level

An optometry program is a postgraduate program that typically lasts four years, depending on the school and curriculum. Below are the topics appeared in the education program:

Techniques for doing basic and advanced eye examinations

Case studies and client case histories

extra natural science (including optics) and pharmacology courses

During the final 1 to 2 years of the program, students will get full-time clinical experience as a resident.


The average income for optometrists in 2018 was $111,790, as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


What services they offer and what they can cure

An optometrist can perform your yearly eye exam, renew your eyeglass or contact prescription, or even provide medicine and therapy for specific eye diseases. An optometrist, unlike an ophthalmologist, is not a surgical expert and cannot treat more serious eye problems.

The following services are provided by optometrists:

  • yearly or routine eye exams, including eye health education 
  • diagnosis of eye diseases 
  • eyeglass, contact lens, and various visual aid prescriptions
  • medical treatments or minor surgical operations for eye issues
  • after-surgery eye care

Controlled medicines can be prescribed by optometrists for eye problems. Some optometrists may also do minor operations, depending on state laws. These surgical treatments may involve the removal of foreign bodies, laser eye surgery, and other surgical interventions.



An ophthalmologist is the one that keeps your eyes healthy and in perfect condition. They are medical practitioners who specialize in eye surgery.

Education Level

Before beginning an ophthalmology residency program, all ophthalmologists must finish a comprehensive medical program. A residency program in ophthalmology takes an extra 4 to 7 years to finish, depending on the school and curriculum. The residency program enlarges on the following topics:

  • Internal and external eye disease diagnosis and management
  • training for subspecialties in eye illness
  • training in ocular surgery for all sorts of eye problems
  • Ophthalmology residency training also includes patient care that includes conducting surgical procedures under supervision. The residency program is usually preceded by a one-year internship.


According to Income.com, the average salary for ophthalmologists in 2018 was $290,777.

What services they offer and which illnesses they can cure

An ophthalmologist can provide the same services as an optometrist, such as a regular eye exam or prescription renewal. An ophthalmologist, on the other hand, may conduct eye surgery for a variety of illnesses and ailments, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and strabismus surgery, among others.

The following services are provided by ophthalmologists:

  • services for basic optometry
  • Eye illness medical and surgical treatment 
  • Post eye surgery rehabilitation services

Ophthalmologists must complete a minimum of 12 years of training before they may conduct in-depth surgical treatments for eye disorders. Based on their specialization, nearly all ophthalmologists will focus on eye disorder as their primary area of treatment.

Do They Carry Out Surgery?

Optometrists and ophthalmologists can both conduct eye surgery depending on their state’s scope of practice. Optometrists, on the other hand, are limited in the surgeries they can do, but ophthalmologists can undertake any and all surgical procedures for which they are educated.


Optometrists and ophthalmologists are both eye care professionals with varying levels of education, specialization, and scope of practice. Choosing the best eye care expert for you will be determined by the services you require.