What is The Difference Between Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, And Opticians?

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To enjoy good vision, your health care profession will recommend regular eye health exams. Eye health care professionals are of three types:

  • Optometrists,

  • Ophthalmologists

  • Opticians

Each of the above has a specific set of qualifications and services they are authorized to provide. When you choose your health care professional in Calgary, consider their qualifications and accreditations. They must be licensed to practice in your area. Choose a doctor who can specifically provide the treatment you need. Experienced doctors are always a better choice as they can identify and understand your problems better than fresher’s. Ask your doctor about research activities as that is an indication of their interest in keeping up to date with the latest developments in their area of specialization.

Here is a description of each eye care professional to help you understand what you can expect from them.


Optometrists are eye care professionals who specialize in vision care, corrective and contact lenses and eye diseases. They prescribe eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye exercise routines and vision therapy.  They diagnose and treat vision problems related to distance vision, short sight and astigmatism which are the most common reasons people visit an optometrist in Calgary. Optometrists can detect and prescribe treatment for cataracts, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, macular degeneration and retinal diseases. They can also treat eye injuries, allergies and infections.  They prescribe and fit glasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are also responsible for pre and post-operative care for patients who undergo eye surgery.

Optometrists finish an undergraduate course before getting their four year training degree for optometry and also have the option of doing a post graduate clinical residency for specialization. 


Ophthalmologists are physicians authorized to provide complete eye care. They are Doctors of Medicine or MDs or Doctors of Osteopathy or DOs. They go through at least four years of pre medical education, four years of medical school and a year of internship to obtain their doctorate degrees and become licensed physicians. This is followed by a three year residency where they receive medical and surgical specialty training in eye care.

Ophthalmologists specialize in total eye care services including eye-related disease and surgery. They conduct eye health exams and provide surgical eye care for cataracts, glaucoma, retinal diseases, plastic surgery and pediatrics. They diagnose and treat eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, iritis and optic neuritis that result from other diseases. Some ophthalmologists also offer the services of wrinkle treatment and enhancing skin tone around the eyes and correcting drooping eyelids and skin tumors. 


Opticians are an important part of the eye care team. They fill lens prescriptions written by ophthalmologists and optometrists. They assess the prescription, dispense, adjust, repair and replace eye glasses. While filling prescriptions, they measure the face and help the patient choose the right lens. Opticians qualify with a one or two year technical diploma, certificate or degree and must be certified in their state of practice. They are not qualified to perform eye exams.

If you have vision problems and need a comprehensive eye health exam in Calgary, you need to see an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist who might work with an optician as a team to provide complete eye care.


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