When it’s time to “get your eyes checked,” make sure you are seeing the right eye care professional for your needs. Ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians each play an important role in providing eye care to consumers, but the levels of training and expertise are quite different for each type of provider.
Many factors can affect our eyesight, including health problems such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Having a family member with eye disease can make you more prone to having that condition as well. Sight-stealing eye disease can appear at any time. Very often they are unnoticeable at first and are difficult to detect.
That’s why it is so important to see an ophthalmologist for a complete medical eye exam by age 40, or sooner if you or your primary care physician notice a problem. A complete, medical eye exam by an ophthalmologist could be the first step toward protecting your sight.
With three locations across the Midlands, Columbia Eye Clinic is the largest and most advanced medical and surgical ophthalmology practice in the Midlands and one of the largest in South Carolina. With a team of 14 Board certified Ophthalmologists as well as licensed Opticians and more than 100 other ophthalmic staff, Columbia Eye Clinic has the expertise and experience to diagnose and treat virtually any eye condition. Columbia Eye Clinic also has subspecialists in glaucoma, retina, cornea, neuro-ophthalmology and oculoplastics.
An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, performs eye surgery and prescribes and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.
Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of vision changes. An optometrist is not a medical doctor. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by three years or more years of college. They are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities, and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.
Opticians are technicians trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and frames, contact lenses, and other devices to correct eyesight. They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists. Opticians are not permitted to diagnose or treat eye diseases.