Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Optometrists are a primary care practitioner for vision and ocular health concerns. They are trained to diagnose, manage and treat a multitude of visual and ocular health-related concerns, including, but not limited to, fitting and prescribing spectacles and contact lenses, treating minor ocular injuries, diagnosing and treating diseases such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. In some states, in the United States, Optometrists perform laser eye surgery.

The three "O"s in eyecare are: Opticians, Optometrists, and Ophthalmologists. The word optometrist comes from the Greek root, "opto-," meaning "vision." An optometrist literally means "one who measures vision."

There are 16 educational institutions across North America that offer doctorate level programs in optometry. The programs generally have an undergraduate degree as a prerequisite, and then run four years addressing academic and clinical topics.

In the United States, ophthalmologist and optometrist are specific terms referring to specific state licensing and courses of professional study. There is considerable overlap in the scope of the two specialties. Optometrists have received a doctor of optometry (OD) degree and may receive further board certification from the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) in various subspecialities and may additionally complete residencies in the United States Veterans Administration Medical Center hospital system. They are thus doctors, and are licensed to detect, treat, manage, and refer cases of eye disease. Ophthalmologists are doctors (MD) who have typically performed an additional three to five years of residency in a specific subspecialty of ophthalmology, and received board certification. The American Optometric Association characterizes optometrists as "primary eye care providers." Ophthalmogists may perform surgery, and optometrists generally do not. More recently with changes in state laws in the U.S., there is also much overlap in the capabilities of the two professions in treating eye disease and the ability to use both diagnostic and therapeutic pharmacological agents.

Oculist is an old word for eye doctor, and can refer to either kind of practitioner.

Specialties with Optometry include:

See also