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This page provides you with a brief introduction to the various eye care professions. We have specifically gathered more resources to further educate you about the optometry profession, how to become an optometrist and ways to get connected with a provider for mentorship or care. 

Eye Care Professions Arranged by The Number of Years of Education in The United States 

Optician: An optician fits, adjust, and designs glasses correction prescribed by optometrists or ophthalmologist. An optician is unable to diagnose or treat eye diseases and conditions. Most states require these individuals to complete an online training program and get an American Board of Opticianry certificate.

Orthoptics: An Orthoptic is most concerned about eye movements. They work in conjunction with optometrists and ophthalmologists to diagnose and treat eye defects such as double vision, amblyopia, and binocular vision. They are licensed professionals who complete a 2-year specialized fellowship training program.

Optometry (OD): An optometrist is a primary eye care doctor who performs eye exams and diagnoses vision abnormalities and eye diseases. They treat and manage eye conditions with glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, lasers, and pharmaceutics with state limitations. It is a legislative profession, so their scope of practice is dependent on the States in which they practice. The optometric education allows optometrists to independently treat eye diseases and co-manage advanced eye diseases with an ophthalmologist. An optometrist has a Doctor of Optometry degree (4 years) after earning a Bachelor’s degree (4 years). Optometrists also have the option of 1-year residency program after their standard optometric education. 

Ophthalmologist (MD/DO): An ophthalmologist is an eye care provider with the largest scope of practice in the eye care industry. Like the optometrist, the ophthalmologist performs eye exams and diagnoses vision abnormalities and eye diseases. They treat and manage eye conditions with glasses, contact lenses, vision therapy, and pharmaceutics without state limitations. In addition to these, the ophthalmologist performs eye surgeries, eye injections, and handles complex vision problems which are beyond the scope of optometry practice. An ophthalmologist has a Doctor of Osteopathic (MD) or Allopathic (DO) medicine degree (4 years) after earning a Bachelor’s degree (4 years) and required residency (3-4 years) depending on the specialty. 

Contact Your Local Optometrist

A disclaimer notice: Cherish Eyesight & Vision’s website provides information that is meant to supplement and not substitute any advice or information given by a provider. The information we provide is from reliable sources and is accurate but is not a complete resource for all vision and eye health conditions.