Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who specialize in eye and vision care. Following four years of premedical college, four years of medical school and a yearlong internship, an ophthalmologist will spend three years in a residency ophthalmology program. An ophthalmologist will complete special training in all facets of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Ophthalmologists also have the choice of sub-specializing in a specific area of eye care, which will require an additional year or two of training. Some subspecialty fields include: glaucoma, retina and plastic surgery.
An optometrist is a Doctor of Optometry (O.D). They first must complete their undergraduate studies before being specifically educated and trained at a four year accredited optometry college. They do not attend medical school. An optometrist is licensed to provide primary eye care services including the examination, diagnosis and treatment of visual conditions, and the ability to prescribe glasses, contact lenses and medications. Although they may also diagnose common eye conditions such as cataracts and glaucoma, they are not licensed to perform surgical eye treatment procedures.