How do I choose among the different types of eye doctors?

Eye doctor. Thomas Northcut

Question: How do I choose among the different types of eye doctors?

My insurance plan has a long list of eye doctors in my area, but I am confused about the various types of eye doctors that exist. How do I go about choosing among several eye doctors?


Choosing eye doctors is an important step toward taking care of your eyes and vision. Eye doctors help to protect your precious sense of sight and help you to have the best vision possible.


Ophthalmologist are eye doctors known as a either a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) who specialize in medical and surgical eye care. These eye doctors can prescribe medications to treat eye diseases, perform eye surgery, perform routine eye examinations and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Becoming an ophthalmologist usually takes 12 or more years of education and training.


Optometrists are eye doctors with a Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree and is the main primary eye care practitioner. These types of eye doctors can diagnose vision problems and eye diseases, prescribe medications to treat most eye diseases, perform minor in-office procedures, provide treatment before and after surgery, and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Becoming an optometrist usually takes about eight or nine years of education and training. Most optometrists obtain a bachelor's degree first, then obtain a doctorate degree and some go on to complete a one year residency program after that.


Although not eye doctors, opticians are eye care professionals who can dispense, adjust and repair eyeglasses. An optician is trained to grind and fabricate lenses for eyeglasses and help patients find the best eyeglasses and contact lenses for their lifestyles. Some opticians earn a two-year associate degree in opticianry.

Other opticians become certified by completing an apprenticeship under professional eye doctors.

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