If you need surgery on your eyes, chances are that
you would go to see an ophthalmologist. An
ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in
structure, functions, and diseases of the eye, as well
as the diagnosis and treatment of such diseases.
Thus, ophthalmologists help correct vision difficulties
often with medication and/or surgery.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND AN
Unlike ophthalmologists, optometrists do not have an MD (medical doctor degree).
Rather, optometrists earn a Doctor of Optometry degree. The distinction is somewhat
blurry (no pun intended). Both ophthalmologists and optometrists diagnose and treat eye
diseases, but ophthalmologists focus much more on eye surgery. There are some
optometrists who can perform certain eye surgeries, but this is done in very limited
circumstances, and generally after being trained by an ophthalmologist. Optometrists
generally focus on prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses and provide most people’s
primary vision care. Both ophthalmologists and optometrists can prescribe medications to
diagnose and treat eye diseases. However, ophthalmologists have more free range to
prescribe medications, as they hold a more general medical degree. Both of these
professionals are different from opticians, who dispenses (and sometimes construct)
corrective eye wear (e.g., eyeglasses).
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HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST?
To become an ophthalmologist, one needs to graduate college and
attend four years of medical school. The medical doctor must then
do a full year of supervised training known as an internship. Once
the medical doctor has completed the internship, he/she needs to
pass a series of national tests. The medical doctor then has to get a
medical license in the state that he/she will be seeing patients and a
license to practice in that state. After 3 more years of specialized
training in ophthalmology, the medical doctor becomes an
WHAT IS A BOARD CERTIFIED OPHTHALMOLOGIST?
Any ophthalmologist can apply to the American Board of Ophthalmology, to become board certified. This
means that the ophthalmologist has 14 years of higher education and 6 years of experience practicing as
a medical doctor (with 5 of those years specializing in medical and surgical problems of the eye). The
ophthalmologist that is board certified has been agreed upon by a board (group) of peers (other
ophthalmologists) to meet the rigorous standards necessary to practice ophthalmology, and has achieved
the highest level of education possible in this field.
WHAT ELSE IS AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST CALLED?
An ophthalmologist is also known as an oculist.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD, OPHTHALMOLOGIST?
Ophthalmologist comes from the Greek word "opthalmos" meaning "eye," and the Greek word "logos"
meaning "the study of." Put the two words together and you have "the study of (the) eye."