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Types of Eye Doctors: Optometrists vs. Ophthalmologists

It’s important to know the differences between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist so that you can seek out the correct professional for your needs.

Eye Doctor


An optometrist offers primary health care for the eye. An optometrist goes through four years of undergraduate school and four years optometry school to earn their Doctor of Optometry degree. They perform routine vision tests, prescribe and fit glasses and contacts, monitor medically related eye conditions related to diseases, and treat certain eye conditions.


An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor and surgeon. They go through four years of undergraduate school, four years of medical school, and an additional four years of ophthalmology residency. In addition to routine vision care, ophthalmologists provide care for more complex eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. They also perform surgical procedures such as laser eye surgery.

Pediatric Eye Doctors

A pediatric ophthalmologist and a pediatric optometrist provide similar care as a regular ophthalmologist or optometrist but are trained to work with children. Babies and young children usually cannot describe symptoms and are unable to use a standard eye chart since they don’t know the letters. Pediatric eye doctors have unique tools and equipment designed for kids to help keep their attention and fit their smaller size. Pediatric ophthalmologists must complete an additional year of training focused on pediatrics. Some eye conditions are more prevalent in early childhood, which is why they are more likely to study the diagnosis and treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (crossed eyes), and pediatric cataracts.

Now that you know the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist, you can be confident in your selection of an eye doctor. If you need a quick prescription renewal, stay home and take our Online Vision Test! If you still have any eye care related questions, contact our customer service team who will be happy to help.

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