Ophthalmologist VS Eye Specialist – What’s The Difference?

Your eyes are without a doubt one of the most vital organs in the body. While this is the case, there are many people in Singapore that overlook them as an organ altogether. It is understandable why this is the case, but that is what they are. That aside, just imagine how hard it would be to get around without your eyes. If you are already experiencing problems then you know this to be the case. Not only do people confuse the eyes as organs, but they also confuse the specialists that diagnose and repair eye problems. With a little bit of research into the topic, you’ll quickly discover that there are two main types of eye doctors. This would be the ophthalmologist and the optometrist. Sounds similar, right? Well, they aren’t and they both serve two different distinctive purposes. Of course, they can work together as a team to diagnose and repair problems, but that is a whole different topic.


What Is An Ophthalmologist?


Before you decide which medical service will be best for you, it is crucial to define them. What this means is you need to know what each service specializes in. For example, an ophthalmologist is defined as “a specialist concerned with the treatment and study of diseases and disorders of the eye”. An optometrist, on the other hand, does not perform surgeries, only examines, diagnoses, and treats disorders and diseases of the eye.

So, if your condition requires surgery, you will need to visit an ophthalmologist. If your condition only requires glasses, you will need to see an optician. With that said, some ophthalmologists do specialize in specific areas, such as external disease, anterior segment surgery, pediatric diseases and disorders, and immunology.

Whether it’s in Singapore or across the world, an ophthalmologist must usually complete four years of university and an additional four years of medical school. These eye care professionals must then complete an additional three years of residency at a brick-and-mortar medical facility, such as a hospital. The path specific to Singapore is even longer, where the doctor needs to have 6 years or more of public practice before being given a chance to specialize as an ophthalmologist. Such consultant roles are extremely rare and usually require another 4-10 years of experience before an ophthalmologist goes private and sets up his or her own clinic in Singapore such as Asia Retina.

Ophthalmologists handle complicated cases, whereas opticians generally work in a doctor’s office, writing prescriptions for glasses, contact lenses, and medications.


What Is An Optometrist?


Optometrists are the doctors that take primary health care of the eye. These doctors are required to attend college, but will also have to spend another 4 years in a professional program. Not only this but before they can venture out on their own and legally work in the field they will be required to acquire an optometry degree. There are a number of these doctors that will even get additional clinical training or complete specialty fellowship programs after optometry school. Whatever the situation is, it is this type of doctor’s job to perform eye exams and vision tests, treat conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, prescribe and fit eyeglasses as well as contact lenses, provide low-vision and vision therapy, detect injuries, and disorder related to the optics and the optic nerves.  As you can see, these doctors are not equipped to handle surgical procedures.

Getting an appointment with an optometrist or optician is generally easy. The same cannot be said about ophthalmologists. When you compare the number of ophthalmologists in the United States to optometrists, the numbers are astonishing. There are more than 19,000 ophthalmologists and more than 68,000 optometrists.


Which Do you Choose?


When it comes to choosing an eye specialist, or ophthalmologist, there are a lot of things that you have to consider. First off, if you are dealing with a condition that only an optometrist can handle then your decision is already made for you The same will go if you are dealing with issues that only a specialist ophthalmologist can treat. However, if you are stuck somewhere there in the middle there will be a number of things that need to be considered. First and foremost, you always want to make sure that you are choosing a reliable and reputable clinic like Asia Retina. Such clinics only employ top-notch, dedicated professionals that are willing to offer the best of the best care.

Besides this, you need to understand that one type of doctor isn’t necessarily better than the other just because they might have a different background, experience, or degree. The right choice really depends on your specific needs and desires. The best eye doctor for you in one that is recommended by friends and family, one that is appropriate for you vision problems, someone you can fully trust, someone that is licensed and certified, and someone that is local.



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Written by HealthStatus Crew
Medical Writer & Editor

HealthStatus teams with authors from organizations to share interesting ideas, products and new health information to our readers.

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