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Published on July 27, 2022

Optometrist or Ophthalmologist: Choosing the Right Eye Care Specialist

little boy happily trying on glasses

By Brittnie Eakle, EvergreenHealth Staff Writer

Eye health is an important aspect of overall health and not one to be overlooked. Optometrists and ophthalmologists play an important role in eye care, but their clinical expertise is quite different.

What is an optometrist?

Optometrists (OD) provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment and management of vision changes.

After completing four years of schooling, optometrists can perform eye exams and vision tests, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect certain eye abnormalities and prescribe medications for certain eye diseases.

What is an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in medical and surgical eye care. An ophthalmologist diagnoses and treats all eye diseases, such as glaucoma, iritis and cataracts, and performs eye surgery to treat more severe eye-related conditions.

Ophthalmologists complete medical school and have 1-year internship, 3- year residency and, in most cases, a 1- to 2-year fellowship.

How to choose your eye care specialist

The right level of care depends on what you need to have done. For primary eye care, such as vision tests and annual exams, you should make an appointment with your optometrist. They may refer you to an ophthalmologist if more specialized care is needed.

For more serious conditions, such as trauma or infections, that require surgical eye care, an ophthalmologist is the best option for you.

EvergreenHealth Eye Care has two convenient locations in Kirkland and Mill Creek and are available to help you with a full range of eye care services. To learn more about the services provided at EvergreenHealth Eye Care, please visit our website or call (425) 899-5335.

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