Optometrists (also known as Doctors of Optometry in the US and Canada for those holding the O.D. degree, or Ophthalmic Opticians in the United Kingdom) are health care professionals who provide primary eyecare through comprehensive eye examinations to detect and treat various visual abnormalities and eye diseases. Being a regulated profession, an optometrist's scope of practice may differ depending on the location. Thus, disorders or diseases detected outside the treatment scope of optometry are referred out to relevant medical professionals for proper care, more commonly to ophthalmologists who are physicians that specialize in tertiary medical and surgical care of the eye. Optometrists typically work closely together with other eye care professionals such as ophthalmologists and opticians to deliver quality and efficient eyecare to the general public.
The term "optometry" comes from the Greek words ὄψις (opsis; "view") and μέτρον (metron; "something used to measure", "measure", "rule"). The word entered the language when the instrument for measuring vision was called an optometer, (before the terms phoropter or refractor were used). The root word opto is a shortened form derived from the Greek word ophthalmos meaning, "eye." Like most healthcare professions, the education and certification of optometrists is regulated in most countries. Optometric professionals and optometry-related organizations interact with governmental agencies, other healthcare professionals, and the community to deliver eye- and vision-care.
The World Council of Optometry, World Health Organisation and about 75 optometry organisations from over 40 countries all over the world adopted the following definition, to be used to describe optometry and optometrist.
Optometry is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated, and regulated (licensed/registered), and optometrists are 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.
Optometric history is tied to the development of