Eye Care Providers

Sometimes, your primary care provider can treat an eye problem. Other times, you need to see an eye care specialist. There are 3 main types of eye care providers:

  • Ophthalmologists
  • Optometrists
  • Opticians

What is an ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist:

  • Is a licensed medical doctor (MD)
  • Is trained in all types of eye and vision care, including care to prevent eye problems
  • Diagnoses and treats eye problems and eye diseases
  • Prescribes medicines, glasses, and contact lenses
  • Does eye surgery and laser procedures when needed

Some ophthalmologists specialize in certain parts of the eye, such as the cornea or retina. These specialists have additional training.

What is an optometrist?

An optometrist:

  • Is a licensed healthcare provider who works with eye problems (a doctor, but not an MD)
  • Examines, diagnoses, and treats eye diseases and vision disorders
  • Tests vision and prescribes glasses, contacts, or eye exercises

If you need surgery or other specialized eye care, an optometrist will refer you to an ophthalmologist.

What is an optician?

An optician can make, fit, adjust, and repair glasses. An optician also fits contact lenses. Opticians are not able to prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Not all states license opticians. In the states that do, opticians must have a high school diploma, and take special training in order to be licensed.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-12-31
Last reviewed: 2014-10-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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