Ophthalmology vs. Optometry: What’s the Difference?
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An optometrist is a health care professional who is licensed to provide primary eye care services, such as:

  • Examining, diagnosing and treated eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts and retinal diseases
  • diagnosing related systemic (body-wide) conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that may affect the eyes
  • examining, diagnosing and treating visual conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia
  • prescribing glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation and medications, as well as performing minor surgical procedures, such as the removal of foreign bodies.

An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry, or OD. To become an optometrist, one must complete pre-professional undergraduate college education followed by four years of professional education in a college of optometry. Some optometrists also do a residency.


An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. They may also be involved in eye research.

After four years of medical school and a year of internship, an ophthalmologist spends a minimum of three years of residency (hospital-based training) in ophthalmology.

During residency, the ophthalmologist receives special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases.

An ophthalmologist may also spend an additional year or two in training in a subspecialty, that is, a specific area of the eye.

For more information about DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital’s ophthalmology services or to make an appointment, call (313) 966-4800.