Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye and vision care. Following four years of premedical college, four years of medical school and a yearlong internship, an ophthalmologist will spend three years in a residency ophthalmology program. An ophthalmologist will complete special training in all facets of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Ophthalmologists also have the choice of sub-specializing in a specific area of eye care, which will require an additional year or two of training. Some subspecialty fields include: glaucoma, pediatric ophthalmology and ophthalmic plastic surgery, just to name a few.
An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.). They must first complete their undergraduate studies before being specifically educated and trained at a four year accredited optometry college. An optometrist is licensed to provide primary eye care services including the examination, diagnosis and treatment of visual conditions, and the ability to prescribe glasses, contact lenses and medications. Although optometrist are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat many common eye conditions, such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, they are not licensed to perform surgical eye procedures.
Both types of eye care providers offer many advantages unique to their profession. Patients are best served by being seen by a team of qualified optometrists and ophthalmologists that work in cooperation to deliver the best eye care possible. Patients at Southern Eye Institute have that type of team available to them.