A doctor of optometry (O.D.) can be defined as an independent primary health care provider who examines, diagnoses, treats and manages diseases and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures.  Services provided by optometrists include prescribing glasses and contact lenses, rehabilitating the visually impaired, and diagnosing and treating selected ocular diseases.  Optometrists do not attend medical school.  They do not perform surgery and usually do not perform laser treatments.  Doctors of optometry must successfully complete a four year accredited degree program at a school or college of optometry.  Optometrists must be licensed by the state or province in which they practice.

Eye M.D.'s (Ophthalmologists):
Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine specializing in the anatomy, function, diseases, and surgical treatment of the eye.  An eye M.D., or ophthalmologist, is a medical doctor specially trained to provide the full specutrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery.  Many eye M.D.'s are also involved in scientific research about the causes and cures of vision problems and eye diseases.  After four years of medical school and one year of internship, every eye M.D. spends a minimum of three years in ophthalmology residency (hospital based training).  Often an eye M.D. spends an additional one to two years training in a subspecialty, or specific area, of eye care (such as glaucoma, retina, oculoplastics, neuro-ophthalmology, cornea and refractive ophthalmology, or pediatric ophthamology).  Almost all eye M.D.'s are board certified.  A board certified eye M.D. has passed a rigorous two -part examination given by the American Board of Ophthalmology (or its Canadian equivalent) and designed to assess his or her knowledge, experience, and skills.  Like all M.D.'s, ophthalmologists must be licensed in the state or province in which they practice.
Types Of Eye Doctors:
Be sure to pick the type of eye doctor that specializes in your disorder.  Generally you will see an optician or optometrist first, and if there are any issues, be referred to an ophthalmologist.  There are three main types of eye physicians, including:
Optitions are professionals who fit and dispense corrective eyewear including eye glasses, contact lenses, low-vision aids, and ocular prostheses (artificial eyes).  To become an optician, on emust complete several years as an apprentice or attend a college program that teaches the skills necessary to fit corrective eye wear.  After this training Opticians can apply to become licensed or certified, depending on the requirements of the state or province where they practice.  If you receive an eye exam at a commercial establishment that concentrates on dispensing glasses or contacts only, be sure the "optician" is a licensed professional.
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