Eye Care Providers (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Optometrists are eye-care providers who have attended college and completed four years of training at an optometry school but have not attended a medical school. In optometry school, they receive education primarily about the eyes and do not receive a comprehensive education regarding the rest of the body and systemic disease processes. Optometrists receive a doctor of optometry (OD) degree.
Optometrists are licensed by the state to practice optometry. They can perform an eye examination and can determine the presence of vision-related problems. They can also prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. Depending on the state in which you live, optometrists may be allowed to treat less complicated eye diseases and prescribe eyedrops for various conditions, but they are not trained or licensed to perform surgery.
Optometrists often work closely with ophthalmologists to provide integrated eye care for their mutual patients. Some optometrists work in the same practice as ophthalmologists, providing refractive (glasses and contact lenses) services, surgical screening, analysis of technical measurements prior to surgery, post-surgical care, emergency care, and other medical services. Other optometrists may work in an independent practice or in conjunction with a national eye-care chain. In many of these optometric practices, frequent referrals to ophthalmologists for surgical or medical care of serious illnesses may occur. Conversely, some ophthalmologists may refer patients to optometrists for primary eye care, refractions, contact lenses, glasses, lens prescriptions, and glasses fittings.
John D. Sheppard, MD, MMSc
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