Types of Eye Doctors Image

Types of Eye Doctors and What Each One Means

Are all eye doctors the same? Can I go to any type of eye care professional and receive adequate care? The short answer is no. Each type of doctor has worked for a specific level of education and training. They may specialize in one aspect of vision care but not another. To receive the best possible health care, you should know who to call. Identify what you need and book an appointment with the correct type of eye doctor.

However, this is easier said than done. Finding an eye doctor that is right for you can be more complicated than it should be.

Types of Eye Doctors Image

Keep reading to understand each type of doctor that cares for the eyes. Learn about their expertise, experience, and services. And, know that the doctor’s personal beliefs may also impact their care. Although holistic methods can be effective in eye health, many doctors refuse to recommend them. You should know that medication, surgery, and prescriptive lenses aren’t always the only answers. Learn about each doctor and choose the right one for you.

Different Types of Eye Doctors

Opticians – This type of eye care professional is only qualified to fit and dispense glasses, contacts, and other vision improvement aids. This also includes artificial eyes. All opticians must be licensed in the state or province in which they practice. They are not licensed to diagnose eye conditions, perform exams or treat conditions. They also cannot write prescriptions for medications. You only need to visit an optician when you want to get a new pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some may also provide glasses repair services.

If you are suffering from pain, irritation, inflammation, or another symptom in the eye, do not go to an optician.

Optometrists – Optometrists are the primary health care providers in the eye care profession. They need a license to practice. To keep their license, they adhere to a strict standard of care. They must graduate from a four-year degree program in optometry which includes on-the-job training.

This then qualifies them to perform eye exams and diagnose conditions. If you are suffering from a symptom in your eyes, book an appointment with your optometrist. After diagnosis, they can help find a treatment plan that works for you. They may prescribe corrective lenses, suggest surgery or teach you some at-home natural vision care techniques. Many optometrist offices also sell glasses and contact lenses.

Although they are a medical doctor, they cannot perform eye surgery.


Behavioral Optometrists – Behavioral optometrists are different from regular optometrists in that they support natural vision improvement programs. Their optometric practices claim to use a “holistic” approach to the treatment of vision and eye conditions. They also address vision information processing problems. The practice of behavioral optometry incorporates various vision therapy methods. It is a complementary alternative medicine practice. If you currently see an eye doctor that doesn’t provide alternative options, consider seeing a behavioral optometrist.

Ophthalmologists – These eye doctors have the authority to perform all the tasks of the eye doctors listed above. In addition, they are also the only eye doctors qualified to perform eye surgery. They have extensive medical degrees with more experience and training than the other types. To maintain their qualifications, they must be members of a professional college of ophthalmology. Professional colleges ensure the doctor is providing adequate care and following safety rules and protocols. It keeps them ethical and transparent in their practice.

One common type of eye surgery they do is LASIK. This is a corrective surgery to fix refractive errors in the eyes. They may also perform cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, and corneal transplants, to name a few. Many ophthalmologists solely act as a surgeon to whom optometrists send their patients. In complicated cases where the diagnosis is unclear, an ophthalmologist may get involved.

Choosing Your Eye Doctor

Finding the right eye care professional to perform the procedures you need is important. Don’t settle for the first doctor you find or the one that’s recommended to you. Do your research.

First, understand what you need from a doctor.

If you are noticing a blurriness in your vision, floaters, or another symptom, see an optometrist. Book a checkup and ask all the questions you have. Pay attention to the doctor’s patience and empathy when they’re treating you. If you don’t feel comfortable with this doctor, go see a different one. It’s crucial you trust the person assessing your health.

If your existing pair of glasses break and you need a new pair, see an optician. They will have a selection of glasses in different styles with different features. Perhaps you’re interested in prescription sunglasses or transition lenses. Simply bring your prescription to the optician and select the frames you’d like. They can measure and fit the frames to comfortably sit on your ears. They may also have the parts to fix your broken glasses.

More Serious Situations

If you’re sick of being told to wear contact lenses or get surgery, know that you’re not alone. More and more patients seek alternative options to traditional eye care every day. See a behavioral optometrist to learn about natural ways to treat your eye condition.

Lastly, if you’ve decided to get surgery on your eyes, you need an ophthalmologist. Your optometrist will likely recommend an eye surgeon they’ve partnered with. However, you don’t have to go with their connection. Feel free to research all your possible options. Find a surgeon that is experienced in the type of surgery you need. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, read reviews and have a consultation meeting.

You are the only advocate for your health. Educate yourself first if you have an eye condition or disorder that needs treatment. Understand that different perspectives will recommend different treatment options. When getting health advice for your eyes, go to the right level of doctor. An optometrist is the doctor to see to assess your eyes and diagnose your condition. For all other needs, see the descriptions above of what each professional can do.

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Join or Start the Discussion

  1. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Bala Duszik II says:

    i suffered a tragic eye injury from a cutting wheel from a grinder dr austin lash stitched up my eye and continued to see me until he replaced my lense that develped a cateract . the lense has been replaced but still have blurry vision in that eye he said it was probably due to my retina being detached and blood behind my eye . he refered me to dr. boho but his schedule is way to full from seeing up to 80 patients a day! their has got to be a specialist near longview, tx. that can fix my problem?

  2. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Elijah says:

    Hello my eyes got blurr since 12 years ago and i was studying long hours using kerosene lamp reading on white papers now i cant see far objects any more and if i use glasses -4.5 lens i can so need your advice i dont want to use glass my eyes get tiredness

  3. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Paul Diana says:

    What about direct eye injuries,who is most qualified for treatment of a hit and possible eye damage

  4. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Salman bacha says:

    Dear sir
    I am a student 30 years old. My eye diseases are 1) Nystagmus 2) photopobia and 3) Macular degeneration. Can my eyes improve?

  5. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Laurie Dahlke says:

    I have just seen my optician an he recommended that I see a specialish due to a caraarct. I sthere anything to help with that without the normal surgery?

  6. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Bessie says:

    Hi Tyler. I have had LASIK 10 years ago and know have terrible astigmatisms. Can you help me.



  7. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Chetan says:

    Hi…Tyler..i would like to know whether can i improve my vision to 20/20 in a year time since i currently have vision of 20/50..waiting for your reply

  8. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Joseph L. Massaquoi says:

    I am suffering from blurry vision begun when I suffered a stroke in March of 2005. I have since then been seeking treatment from optometrists, ophthalmologists but my vision remains blurry. If my vision could be corrected to a 20/20 level, I will be most grateful.

  9. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Tom Mckernan says:

    Thanks Tyler, for this article about the types of eye professionals. I had simply failed to consider that four types of eye experts work in eye care.
    What I had experienced over the past ten years was confusion from listening to these four ‘experts’. I will adjust my expectations in future dealings.
    Regarding your remedial theme, I see better am aware of what both of my eyes do. For example, my mid and long distance vision capabilities work ok, as in I can see what is what in excellent detail. Warm regards, Tom

  10. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Stephanie says:

    I have for a Dr an Ophthalmologist, however I am very fearful of the treatment for Macular Degeneration

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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