Eye Care Professionals: What’s the Difference?

Optometrists, opticians, and ophthalmologists – what’s the difference between these three eye care professionals? You probably hear these terms, with some people even using them interchangeably. However, the fact is that each of these refers to a different type of eye care professional. They each have a unique role in providing eye care services.

The Difference Between Optometrists, Opticians, and Ophthalmologists 

There’s a big difference between each profession and what they do. We’ve broken down their roles for you here.


Optometrists are the primary eye care providers. When you go for an eye exam, they’re the ones who will perform the exam. Optometrists are highly educated, clinically trained, and provincially licensed. 

Optometrists are responsible for: 

  • Examining the eyes for vision problems
  • Prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Diagnosing and treating certain eye diseases and conditions 


After your eye exam, you’ll work with an optician who will fill your prescription and fit your glasses. Opticians also fill prescriptions for patients given by their ophthalmologists. Opticians complete their education at an accredited institute and then obtain their license to become certified. 

Opticians do the following:

  • Measure patients’ eyes for glasses or contacts
  • Provide advice on the best lens material to use
  • Make adjustments to glasses frames


Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions. They’re eye surgeons and specialists that assist patients that require a higher level of eye care. They spend a number of years in medical school and residency programs.

Ophthalmologists handle the following:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases
  • Diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions related to other diseases, like diabetes
  • Perform eye surgery for glaucoma, cataracts, trauma, and other eye defects  

Caring for Eye Health 

Caring for your eyes is imperative and involves different levels of care. While each eye care professional plays a unique role in your eye health, they’re all equally important. It’s good to understand the differences between these three types of professionals so you know who to go to and when. 

If you have any questions about which type of professional is best suited for your particular situation, it is best to consult with your doctor or optometrist first before making a decision.

Schedule an eye exam with your local optometrist and get fitted for glasses by your local optician.

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