How to help your eye doctor help you

An Ophthmalogist is a medical doctor who can perform surgery. He or she has an undergraduate degree (usually in the hard sciences), plus a 4 year medical school degree followed with 8 years of post-graduate school internship and residency programs. He or she must be able to treat all eye conditions. They must also be current on all surgical procedures with regard to the eye. An Ophthmalogist needs to stay current on eye conditions and new surgery techniques. While an Ophthmalogist may refract eyes, this doctor primarily treats eye diseases and performs surgery. ***Some Ophthmalogist actually will refuse to give ordinary eye examinations for eyeglasses or contact lenses.

An Optometrist is an eye doctor who primarily refracts eyes for a new prescription and fits contact lenses. He or she has a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate studies in the sciences along with 4 years of training in eye heath in order to obtain the Doctor of Optometry degree. This doctor must stay current on new refracting techniques and keep track of all the new contacts that are approved for the public. ***An Optometrist can diagnose a number of eye conditions, but, in many instances, he must refer the patient to an Ophthmalogist for further treatment.

An Optician is a specialist in the fabrication and fitting of eyeglasses. He or she is similar to a pharmacist; requiring hand-on skills in the art of optical eyeglass manufacturing and dispensing. The optician performs an essential part of the eye health system of “checks & balances” and is the professional most qualified to translate a doctor’s eye prescription into a usable set of eyeglasses. If you want to know about specialized prescription lenses for work, hobbies, sports etc, there is no better person to talk to. An Optician must stay current on all the new eyeglass lenses that are approved for the public.

Doctors are very knowledgeable people but they can make mistakes. Here is what you can do to help manage your eye exam:

  • Doctors are not always aware of all the new lenses that are available to make your life easier. Giving out lens information is the job of your Optician.

  • If your Doctor’s office is very busy and they are rushing you, your prescription could turn out to be wrong.

  • If your Doctor allows someone other than themselves to write out your new eyeglass prescription, that new prescription could contain errors.

  • If you go to a new Doctor and your old eyeglasses are not examined, your new eyeglass prescription could be over corrected or under corrected.

  • Both Ophthmalogist and Optometrists use a machine called an Auto Refractor, which can automatically provide an estimate of your vision correction. This prescription estimate is a “starting point” for your final prescription. Your eye doctor must ‘fine tune’ the Auto Refractor’s beginning prescription. In a number of very busy offices, some Doctor’s assistants have used the Auto Refractor’s beginning prescription for the final eyeglass prescription. This is wrong. If this situation should happen to you, do not accept the prescription and speak to your eye doctor.

  • When you go for your eye exam, if you feel you are being rushed…tell the person who is taking care of you to SLOW DOWN.

  • If someone other than your eye doctor gives you your eye exam…demand to see your eye Doctor and have him re-check the final eyeglass prescription.

  • If you do not feel comfortable in your eye Doctor’s office or in the exam room, advise the office manager and reschedule your appointment or choose another eye doctor.

  • Please remember…you are the individual who is in control…you are the consumer…the eye Doctor is working for you.

  • Now go out there and get a great eye exam!!


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