What is the Difference Between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?

If you have seen several vision professionals in your life but are not sure exactly what type they were, you are not alone. Names like ophthalmologists and optometrists can make it difficult to remember which one treats which issues. However, these two do very different things, so understanding the differences can help you see the right one for your needs. 

What is an Ophthalmologist?

The difference between ophthalmologists and other vision specialists is that only ophthalmologists are medical doctors with a medical degree and four or more years of specialization. They can perform a wide range of procedures, including complex surgeries, and can also provide routine eye care. Your team at Vold Vision consists of ophthalmologists supported by an experienced support team to provide you with the most comprehensive vision care. 

, What is the Difference Between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?, Vold Vision

What is the Difference Between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists in several ways. First, optometrists have a different degree. Instead of a medical degree, they have a four-year Doctor of Optometry (OD), which is not a medical degree. Optometrists specialize in vision care, including managing vision prescriptions, performing routine exams, and diagnosing some conditions. They may refer you to an ophthalmologist if they find a condition that requires more treatment or if you are interested in a procedure such as LASIK. 

While an optometrist can provide several types of routine care, they cannot perform surgery or treat serious medical conditions. For this reason, some people prefer to see an ophthalmologist for all their eye care. Our family eye care is provided by ophthalmologists who can treat both minor and complex eye conditions throughout your entire lifespan. 

What Does an Ophthalmologist Treat?

The simplest answer is that ophthalmologists can treat almost anything eye-related. However, some specialize in different areas of ophthalmology, while others may act as general or comprehensive ophthalmologists. These comprehensive ophthalmologists often function as family eye care practitioners. Ophthalmologists can also specialize in:

  • A specific condition or group of conditions, such as glaucoma
  • A specific treatment, such as laser eye surgery
  • A specific part of the eye, such as the retina or cornea
  • A specific age group, such as pediatrics

Another important role that ophthalmologists play is that of clinical researchers. Members of our Vold Vision team participate in clinical research that helps advance the entire field and helps them stay on the cutting edge of advancements in ophthalmology. Clinical research also offers access to innovative treatment options you may not receive from other doctors. 

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We’d love to help you get all the information you need in order to make the best choice for your eyes. Request a consultation today! Our staff is available and happy to answer your every question.

When Should I See an Ophthalmologist?

Your vision needs will change throughout your lifetime, so our family eye care plan includes regular eye exams on a schedule determined by your ophthalmologist. People who have or are at risk of conditions like glaucoma may need to visit more often than someone who receives only routine exams. 

If you have not seen an ophthalmologist in a while, these signs should remind you to schedule an appointment:

  • You have experienced vision changes
  • Your vision has become hazy or clouded
  • You are experiencing irritation, sensitivity, or other discomfort
  • You are at higher risk due to a medical condition, family history, or other factors

We encourage making routine eye care a regular part of your health plan just like any other screening test or physical exam. Many eye conditions, including serious ones like glaucoma, can be easily managed if diagnosed early, but can lead to long-term vision loss if ignored. Routine care prevents potentially harmful conditions from sneaking up on you. 

How Do I Find a Good Ophthalmologist?

Finding the right ophthalmologist for you and your family can take a bit of research. Factors that you should consider include:

  • Background, experience, and specialization
  • Word-of-mouth recommendations from people you trust
  • Online reviews and testimonials
  • The facility and other team members

Choosing a team of ophthalmologists like the team at Vold Vision means you have access to different doctors with different specializations and skills. You have the freedom to find a doctor you feel comfortable with and establish a life-long eye care plan

The staff is amazing! I felt very comfortable and confident with trusting my eyes with them.
Amanda C.

Take the Next Step

You’ll benefit not only from the latest technologies available but also from our compassionate, personal approach. You’re more than a patient at Vold Vision in Bentonville and Fayetteville. We strive to make you as comfortable as possible while evaluating the optimal treatment plan just for you. We invite Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville, and Springdale residents to contact us today for a consultation at (479) 755-4510

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