If you’re in need of eye care, you’ll be faced with a wide range of options that vary from do-it-yourself (generally not recommended) to seeing an ophthalmologist to seeing an optometrist (also referred to as an Vision OD, or Doctor of Optometry).
DIY is generally not the best option when it comes to something as important as your eyes, so it’s best avoided unless you’ve first discussed options with a professional.
The trick is to figure out who is the best pro for your Vision OD needs. Here is an overview of the differences between them, along with the pros and cons of each.
An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who has a college degree and at least eight additional years of training after that. They can practice medicine, perform surgery, treat all eye diseases, plus take care of prescribing and fitting you for eye glasses and contact lenses. Many of them specialize further and become known as specialists in corneal issues, retinal problems, plastic surgery, and more.
However, all of this specialization comes at a high cost. It’s often expensive to see them, even for routine visits, and because there aren’t many of them compared to other kinds of eye care professionals, there are often long waits to get in for an appointment. (We’ve all heard the stories of people having to spend literally hours waiting at a specialist’s office to be seen.) For most people, seeing an ophthalmologist simply isn’t needed and they’re better off with a more affordable eye care practitioner who’s also more easily accessible.
Optometrists (Vision OD)
Enter the optometrist. They have a degree from an optometry school that takes four years to earn, plus an additional three years of specialized training after that. They are trained to assess and test your vision, provide eye exams, screen you for many abnormalities of the eye, prescribe and fit you for corrective lenses (eye glasses and contacts), plus, they can treat certain eye conditions with medication if needed.
They’re a more accessible eye care professional, more affordable, and more convenient to see since there are enough of them to go around. (i.e., You’ll never have to wait hours to see them despite having an appointment! Well, maybe it’s not impossible for that to happen, but let’s just say it’s rare.) Finally, optometrists are trained to know when you do need the expertise of an ophthalmologist (for example, if you require eye surgery), and can easily refer to the right specialist if your situation requires it.
Get the best of both worlds with an optometrist (Vision OD)
Seeing an optometrist is like getting the best of both worlds. You get more affordable care and only pay for the expertise you need. And you have the peace of mind of knowing that if something comes up that does require the increased cost and specific training of an ophthalmologist, they know enough to refer you to one.