Ophthalmologists vs. Optometrist vs. Optician

Of all the questions people have about eye care, one of the most common is the difference between ophthalmologists vs. optometrists. Many people are confused, and this confusion can lead them to choose the wrong specialist when they need eye care. Here, we explain the differences between ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians.

  • Opticians are the masters of glasses. They are not medically trained, but technically trained and licensed by the state. Typically, opticians need two years of college and an apprenticeship. They cannot write prescriptions, but they can help you fill prescriptions for them, and for contact lenses. When you choose your eyeglasses, it will likely be an optician who helps to fit your frames. The functions served by opticians include prescription analysis, determination of the best lens for the wearer, preparation and delivery of lenses and fabrication of eyewear, and adjustment, repair, and replacement.
  • Optometrists have a doctorate in optometry from a four-year postgraduate program. They are doctors whose responsibilities can vary greatly, depending on their chosen area of focus, but they can perform annual examinations, write prescriptions, treat illnesses like glaucoma, and fit lenses. Many optometrists function as “one stop shops” for eye care.
  • Ophthalmologists are the only eye care professionals who are qualified to perform eye surgery. They must earn a Doctorate of Medicine, so that they can perform eye exams, and a variety of surgical procedures, including cataract surgery, corneal transplant, and laser procedures. With four years of college, four years of medical school, and four years of residency and internship, ophthalmologists are well versed in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the eye.

One of the leading LASIK surgeons in the country and a pioneer in the field of laser surgery, Dr. Gary Tylock is an ophthalmologist with over twenty years of experience.  Board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology, his impressive background includes twenty years of teaching surgical techniques at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and a term as chief of staff at Pioneer Park Medical Center. He now heads up the caring staff at Tylock-George Eye Care and Laser Center, where commitment to excellence in patient care keeps the clinic at the top of its field.