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Optometrist FAQs

  • Introduction

    An optometrist is an eye care specialist who diagnoses and treats vision issues with corrective eyewear or contact lenses. Optometrists are licensed to practice optometry, an area of eye health that includes performing eye exams, diagnosing eye abnormalities, testing for eye disease, and prescribing medications. Following diagnosis, optometrists assist patients with treating immediate issues and managing vision changes.

    All optometrists are required to complete four years of optometry school to earn a Doctor of Optometry degree. While an optometrist is not a medical doctor, they can provide ophthalmology referrals when patients require surgery or treatment out of their general scope.
  • What is an eye doctor called?

    An eye doctor with a medical degree is an ophthalmologist. Optometrists aren't medical doctors; however, they're licensed professionals who can diagnose a wide range of eye issues, prescribe medications to treat eye infections, and provide continuing care for changing eye health in children, adults, and seniors.

  • What is an optometrist?

    An optometrist is an eye care professional that has a license and certification in optometry. Optometrists hold OD degrees, which allows them to perform thorough eye exams, both visually and through computer technology, diagnose eye abnormalities and infections, and prescribe eyewear, contact lenses, and various types of medication.

  • Are optometrists doctors?

    An optometrist is not a medical doctor. Optometrists hold OD degrees, which are Doctor of Optometry degrees. Similar to medical doctors, optometrists can diagnose and treat eye disease and prescribe medications, such as eye antibiotics, eye analgesics, and ocular antivirals.

  • What does an optometrist do?

    Optometrists have a focus on eye health and vision correction. An optometrist performs visual examinations of the eye and retina through a phoropter machine, diagnoses eye conditions ranging from visual issues to bacterial infections, and prescribes contact and corrective lenses.

  • What is the difference between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist?

    An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry, while an ophthalmologist is an actual medical doctor who has completed traditional medical school with a focus on eye health. Optometrists can diagnose eye conditions and create treatment and management plans, and they can prescribe eyewear. Ophthalmologists can perform eye surgery and treat conditions, such as cataracts and glaucoma.

  • What’s the difference between an optometrist and an optician?

    An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry who diagnoses eye diseases, performs examinations for vision conditions, and prescribes corrective eyeglasses and contacts. Optometrists can also prescribe antivirals, antihistamines, and antibiotics to help treat eye infections, dry eyes, and allergies. Opticians are eye care professionals that aid in fitting eyeglasses and devices to correct vision.

  • When should someone see an eye doctor?

    A person should schedule an appointment with an eye doctor if they notice any deviation in their vision, such as blurriness, persistent floaters, sudden vision loss, or eye pain. Additionally, eye doctors can assist with diagnosing and treating bacterial eye infections, including cellulitis and keratitis, severe eye allergies, and viral conditions, such as ocular herpes.

  • How often should you go to the eye doctor?

    Eye care professionals recommend routine eye exams every one to two years. Individuals with degenerative eye conditions may be required to visit the eye doctor yearly or semiannually. Routine eye exams for individuals with minor to severe vision problems help eye doctors manage conditions and spot warning signs for potential diseases.

  • Why do eye doctors dilate your eyes?

    Eye dilation is a necessary aspect of the eye exam process. The procedure is performed with either eye drops or Optomap computerized technology, and it allows eye care specialists to test eye muscle function and measures how light enters the eye. Dilation also aids in diagnosing eye abnormalities and testing side vision.

  • Can an optometrist prescribe medication?

    A licensed optometrist can prescribe a wide range of medications for infections, viruses, and allergies. Specific medications optometrists can prescribe include amoxicillin, prednisone steroids, acyclovir antivirals, and analgesics, including Vicodin for pain. Optometrists can also prescribe moistening drops and drops to treat allergies.

  • Should I go to the doctor for pink eye?

    Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is an extremely contagious eye infection. While symptoms that accompany the infection can often be treated at home, antibiotics are often required to eliminate the bacteria. Patients may request prescriptions over the phone, but it's important to visit a doctor for symptoms, such as severe pain, light sensitivity, and severe redness.

  • Can you bring your own frames to the eye doctor?

    In most cases, patients can bring their own frames to the eye doctor. If an optician is on-site, new lenses can be cut by grinding machines to fit into existing frames. In addition to bringing frames to an eye doctor, certain eyeglass retailers, such as Visionworks and Costco, assist with placing new lenses into old frames.

  • Can an optometrist treat eye infections?

    Licensed optometrists can diagnose and treat eye infections. Treatments include prescribing medications, such as eye antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroid drops. Diagnostic measures may include visual eye exams and culture samples. Common eye infections include conjunctivitis, ocular herpes, and styes.

  • How does one become an optometrist?

    Optometrists are required to complete four years of optometry school following three or more years of college courses. Once optometry school is completed, an optometrist receives an OD degree, which stands for Doctor of Optometry.

  • Do optometrists go to medical school?

    Optometrists do not go to traditional medical school. They attend optometry school for a four-year period, with courses that include basic science, anatomy, medical pathology, Optometric Theory and Methods, and ocular pharmacology. Upon completion, optometrists earn Doctor of Optometry degrees.

  • How long does it take to become an optometrist?

    Optometrists must complete four-year optometry programs at accredited optometry schools. Three years or more of general college courses must be completed before students can move forward to optometry school. If the student wishes to pursue additional certifications, more time may be needed.

  • How much do optometrists make?

    As of 2021, the average salary for an optometrist is between $113,380 and $141,904 per year. Additional factors that can result in higher or lower salaries include the time on the job and overall experience, additional degrees and certifications, patient bases, and geographical locations.

  • What degree do you need to be an optometrist?

    To become a licensed, professional optometrist, students must earn a Doctor of Optometry degree. Licensed optometrists can perform examinations, diagnose eye health issues, and prescribe eyewear and contact lenses for vision correction.

  • What does OD mean for an eye doctor?

    OD stands for Doctor of Optometry. A Doctor of Optometry degree is received once an optometry student completes four years of optometry school. Optometrists can diagnose and assist managing eye issues within a specific scope, while ophthalmologists earn M.D. Doctor of Medicine degrees and can perform eye surgery procedures.

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