Ophthalmologists are “…medical and osteopathic doctors who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care.” In the US, this requires four years of college, four years of medical school, one year general internship, three years of residency, then optional fellowship for 1 to 2 years (typically 12–14 years of education after high school). An ophthalmologist can perform all the tests an optometrist can and in addition is a fully qualified medical doctor and surgeon. Ophthalmologists undergo extensive and intensive medical and surgical exams to qualify and entrance criteria to a training program is highly competitive. Some ophthalmologists receive additional advanced training (or fellowship) in specific areas of ophthalmology, such as retina, cornea, glaucoma, laser vision correction, pediatric ophthalmology, uveitis, pathology, or neuro-ophthalmology.
An ophthalmic medical practitioner is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in ophthalmic conditions but who has not completed a specialization in ophthalmology.
The World Council of Optometry, a member of the World Health Organisation, defines optometrists as “…the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system.”
A Doctor of Optometry (OD) attends four years of college, four years of optometry school and then an optional one-year residency. Optometrists undergo extensive and intensive refractive and medical training mainly pertaining to the eye and the entrance criteria to attend optometry school is also highly competitive. An OD is fully qualified to treat eye diseases and disorders and specializes in optics and vision correction. Permissions granted by an optometric license vary by location.
Orthoptists specialize in diagnosis and management of eye movement and coordination problems, misalignment of the visual axis, convergence and accommodation problems, and conditions such as amblyopia, strabismus, and binocular vision disorders, as outlined by the International Orthoptic Association. They may assist ophthalmologists in surgery, teach orthoptic students, students of other allied health professions, medical students, and ophthalmology residents and fellows, act as vision researchers, perform vision screening, perform low vision assessments and act as clinical administrators.