Choosing an Eye Doctor: Things to Consider When Choosing an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist



Keeping your eyes healthy is crucial. So, selecting an eye doctor to care for your eyes is a very important decision. With so many options available, it may be daunting to start the process of choosing an eye doctor. But, if you keep a few key considerations in mind, you’ll be able to streamline the process and narrow down your choices. Take a look below for some suggestions to get started.

Optometrists vs. ophthalmologists

One of the first questions many people have is what the difference is between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist. Both are doctors trained to diagnose, treat and manage vision problems and eye diseases, but there are some distinctions between them.

Optometrist: An optometrist has a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. They complete a four-year college degree program followed by four years of post-graduate optometry school training. Optometrists examine eyes for health and vision issues and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision. Optometrists are also licensed to prescribe medications.

Ophthalmologist: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or an osteopathic doctor (DO) specializing in vision and eye health. They generally complete a four-year degree followed by four years of medical school, an internship, and three years of hospital-based residency. Like optometrists, ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye tests to diagnose health and vision issues, prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision, and prescribe medication. Ophthalmologists, however, can also perform eye surgery.

If you have no major vision issues, choosing an optometrist or ophthalmologist to conduct a regular comprehensive eye test is purely your preference. If you have certain eye health issues such as cataracts or macular degeneration which may require surgery or close monitoring however, it is wise to choose the more highly trained ophthalmologist who is specially skilled in eye surgery and can provide a complete scope of care.

Vision insurance

Another factor that comes into play when choosing an eye doctor is vision insurance. If you have vision insurance, you need to choose an eye doctor who is covered by your provider. Most insurance plans cover doctors both in private practices and those who are located in an eyeglass retailer’s store like one you’d find in your local mall. Check your insurance documentation or call your insurance provider to find out exactly what is covered and what will be your responsibility to pay out of pocket.

If you’ve chosen between an optometrist and ophthalmologist and found doctors who are covered under your insurance plan but still can’t decide on one, it’s a good idea to ask friends, family and coworkers for recommendations. No matter what you choose, it’s imperative that you always stay up to date with your eye and vision health and schedule a comprehensive eye test at least every other year, or yearly if you have existing vision problems. 


Post is sponsored by LensCrafters.

About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.