7 October, 2021
What is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?
Today we are taking the opportunity to explain one of your most frequently asked question: What is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?
The studies of optics and optometry are a regulated University training since 1974 and they were recognized as a University Degree after the European Treaty of Bologna in 1995, Optometrists play a crucial role in the Visual Health of the population.
Far from the old scuffles between ophthalmologists and optometrists, caused by social ignorance and by the malpractice of some professionals of the two fields, nowadays all Ophthalmological services of quality have professional Ophthalmologists and Optometrists who work hand in hand to offer a complete service to the patients.
Whenever we are asked what is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist, we illustrate the differences with this example:
The Optometrist is a university health professional who considers the eye as an optical system, like a camera that has the focus of its lenses out of adjustment for some reason and their task is to put them back in focus so that the photo comes out sharp. Once they have the two cameras (both eyes) in focus, another of the Optometrist’s competencies is to get the brain to integrate these two images as one so that we can have a good quality vision, with stereopsis (3D vision) and without any associated discomfort. To be able to do all this, the optometrist acquires skills in many fields such as Physics, Geometric Optics, Biochemistry, Biology and has a wide range of possibilities to find the best compensation option: Glasses, Contact Lenses, Control Treatments for Myopia, Night Orthokeratology, Visual Therapy…
The Ophthalmologist is a medicine doctor whose specialty, after their residency training, is Ophthalmology and is in charge of seeing and treating the pathologies of the eye as an organ of the body. Their skills are aimed at the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases, and not so much at the refractive state of the eye (the blurring of the camera that we talked about earlier). As physicians, within ophthalmology there are numerous subspecialties and they normally focus on a specific area of the eye, distinguishing between ophthalmologists of the anterior pole of the eye, of the ocular appendages, or specialists in retina and vitreous. Their tools are more linked to the treatment of diseases through drugs and eye surgery.
Primary care is essential for the early detection of diseases, and a patient co-management is the best formula to guarantee a complete service to the patients.
Get your vision checked by an optometrist, trust them with the prescription of your glasses or contact lenses and visit an ophthalmologist to determine if there is any pathology that requires medical treatment. They are two professionals willing to work coordinated to take care of your visual health.
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