Difference between Ophthalmology and Optometry

Key difference: The main difference is that ophthalmology is a medical field, whereas optometry is not. This means that an ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor with an M.D. degree. An optometrist is a trained professional; however they do not have an M.D. degree.

Ophthalmology and optometry are both fields of eye care. The main difference is that ophthalmology is a medical field, whereas optometry is not. This means that an ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor with an M.D. degree. An optometrist is a trained professional; however they do not have an M.D. degree.

According to Dictionary.com, ophthalmology is “the branch of medical science dealing with the anatomy, functions, and diseases of the eye.” Whereas, optometry is “the practice or profession of examining the eyes, by means of suitable instruments or appliances, for defects in vision and eye disorders in order to prescribe corrective lenses or other appropriate treatment.”

The term, ophthalmology is derived from the Greek roots ‘ophthalmos’ meaning eye and ‘logos’ meaning word, thought, or discourse. Ophthalmology literally means "the science of eyes". It has a greater scope than just optometry, as optometry is essentially a part of ophthalmology. Optometry, on the other hand, is derived from the Greek words ‘opsis’, meaning view and ‘metron’ meaning something used to measure, measure, rule.

As stated previously, an ophthalmologist is a Medical Doctor with an M.D. degree. This means that they have been through four years of medical school and at least one year of post-graduate general medical and surgical training. They specialize in all areas of eye care including diagnosis and management of diseases and disorders of the eye. They also have a complete background in general medicine. They are qualified to perform any eye surgery. Additionally, they can also do everything that describes the job of an optometrist, in addition to their own job descriptions.

An optometrist, on the other hand, has a Doctor of Optometry degree from an optometry school. This entitles them to practice optometry but not medicine. A Doctor of Optometry degree requires four years of training in examining the eyes and treating certain types of visual and eye disorders. An optometrist does not have any background in general medicine or any training in surgical management of eye diseases. They may or many not have some training in medical treatment of eye diseases.

Essentially, an optometrist is responsible for examining the eye, checking vision, diagnosing near-sightedness, far-sightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia, dispensing corrective glasses and contact lenses. They can also examine the internal and external structure of the eyes, as well as diagnose eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and retinal disorders.

Image Courtesy: lasikeyesurgeryx.net, nchcedc.org

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