Most people, when considering their vision, will get their annual exam from their local optometrist. An optometrist (OD) performs eye exams and vision tests, prescribes glasses and contact lenses, and diagnoses and prescribes medicines for eye diseases. Their training includes four years of undergraduate study and an additional graduate study (four years) at a dedicated optometry program, such as the State University of New York College of Optometry.
An ophthalmologist can render all the services provided by an optometrist, but their training includes an MD, four years of postgraduate training, an internship, and a three-year surgical residency. An ophthalmologist can perform surgical treatments for conditions such as cataracts. They can also perform laser vision correction, including LASIK and PRK.
In practice: The difference between optometrists and ophthalmologists
If you are experiencing vision issues, your first bet is to go to an optometrist. In this situation, they will likely prescribe corrective lenses. For specialized contact lenses, an optometrist also will help you get fitted with these. If you have worn corrective lenses for many years and want another option, visiting SharpeVision will help you find the potential solution that you are looking for.
Can optometrists do LASIK?
Generally speaking, optometrists cannot do any form of eye surgery. However, this varies from state-to-state. In Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, recent laws have expanded the scope of optometrists, allowing them to complete certain types of laser treatments. In other states, such as Virginia, optometrists can do minor surgical procedures, such as correcting “lumps and bumps,” such as a stye. In the majority of areas, ophthalmologists are only authorized to complete laser vision treatments.
Will an optometrist tell you if you are a good candidate for LASIK?
Since optometrists are trained in the diagnosis and correction of vision problems, you most likely will receive a prescription for corrective lenses. Many optometrists and ophthalmologists work through a process of co-management. In this situation, the optometrist and ophthalmologist work together to manage a person’s eye condition before and after surgery. Most optometrists will recommend an ophthalmologist or a laser vision treatment center if a patient asks about procedures such as LASIK.
How about other eye problems?
In the early days of eye care, if a patient came to an optometrist with a cataract, they would refer that patient to an eye surgeon. The process of co-management also extends to other types of eye problems, such as cataracts and presbyopia. Co-management helps ensure a better treatment option for people of all ages, especially as older generations interact more with devices such as cellphones and screens. At SharpeVision, laser-assisted cataract removal and RLE (great for people over the age of 45) can help with improved vision, with highly customizable and safe treatment.
Why should you visit a reputable laser vision treatment center like SharpeVision?
At SharpeVision, you get access to an entire team of specialists, including optometrists and an ophthalmologist. Through the process of co-management, an optometrist will diagnose your vision. This helps our team create a specialized treatment plan, whether it be LASIK or PRK, and you will get a plan that is right for your level of vision. At the end of the day, an optometrist and ophthalmologist working together can help adequately advise on advanced vision issues.