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What is the Difference Between an Opthamologist and an Optometrist?

eye exam Fargo ND

If you’re just looking for a physician for your eyes, you may get hung up on the difference between ophthalmologists and optometrists. And while we’d say you’re lucky for only now needing to see an eye doctor, the truth is we recommend that everyone get a yearly checkup. For the health of your eyes, it’s important to be aware of any possible issues.

So, how do you know if you need an opthamologist or an optometrist? Though they both work with the eyes, they are different in specific ways. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between ophthalmologists and optometrists.


An optometrist is an eye doctor who examines the eyes, treating both vision and health problems. They correct vision issues by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide vision therapy, though this is not extremely common.

In general, optometrists are licensed and allowed to prescribe medications to treat some eye problems and diseases. They’re governed by the state they work in, so they may have more or less power, depending on where you live. Though most are not trained to perform eye surgery, some may be able to do so. They may help support your pre- and post-operative care if you have eye surgery from another doctor, like an ophthalmologist. 


Like optometrists, opthamologists are able to examine eyes, and prescribe glasses and contact lenses. Surgery is where they generally differ. Overall, ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye surgery, perform eye exams, prescribe medications for the eyes, diagnose and treat disease.


Though opticians are not eye doctors, you may be confused about what they really do. And, do you need to find one? Generally, you will not need to find an optician, though you may choose to do so, if you want a specific type of glasses frame. Opticians take the prescriptions from your optometrist or ophthalmologist to provide you with glasses that are correctly fit to your eyes.

If you’re interested in learning more about ophthalmology, give us a call. Call us at (701) 235-5200 to schedule a consultation today!

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