Optometrists, also known as doctors of optometry, or O.D.s, are the main providers of vision care. They examine people's eyes to diagnose vision problems, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness, and they test patients' depth and color perception and ability to focus and coordinate the eyes. Optometrists may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses, or they may provide other treatments, such as vision therapy or low-vision rehabilitation.
Optometrists also test for glaucoma and other eye diseases and diagnose conditions caused by systemic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, referring patients to other health practitioners as needed.
The doctor of optometry degree requires the completion of a four-year program at an accredited school of optometry, preceded by at least three years of preoptometric study at an accredited college or university.
Optometrists should not be confused with ophthalmologists or opticians. Ophthalmologists are physicians who perform eye surgery, as well as diagnose and treat eye diseases and injuries. Like optometrists, they also examine eyes and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses. Dispensing opticians fit and adjust eyeglasses and, in some states, may fit contact lenses according to prescriptions written by ophthalmologists or optometrists.
Source: MedlinePlus and Bureau of Labor Statistics
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- American Optometric Association
- This site has a section for patients, including information on eye and vision problems, as well as children's vision, contact lenses and caring for your eyes.