The eyes are the passport to the world and must be cared for at all times. Choosing an eye care specialist, like is essential for you and your family. After all, your vision’s health is just as important as your body’s health. To maintain a lifetime of good vision, finding the right optometrist is essential in catching vision problems and receiving the best optical care.

The first step in selecting the right eye care physician is understanding what an optometrist does. Also, how does an optometrist differ from an ophthalmologist or optician? Let’s take a look at what these vision experts do in the eye care industry.

What is an optometrist?

Optometrists are eye doctors that have earned Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degrees. They specialize in examining the eyes for vision and health issues. They also correct vision and refractive problems by prescribing eyeglasses or contact lenses to patients. Some even offer vision therapies and low vision care at their practices. As with all eye care specialists, optometrists will check for astigmatism in your eyes. They will also look for cataracts, blood spots, and visual impairments in the eyes.

An optometrist can determine whether you are nearsighted or farsighted. This is instrumental in securing the right, corrective eyewear to help you see objects up close or farther away. You may also be experiencing blurry vision, clouded vision, or computer vision syndrome due to spending excessive hours in front of computer or device screens. These devices emit blue lights, which can affect your cornea, retina, iris, or pupil. An eye care physician will determine if you are experiencing eye strain and will prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or even sunglasses with prescription in them for vision correction.

Optometrists in the United States are also licensed to prescribe medications for eye problems and diseases. This is mandated by the state law and governing bodies of the states they reside in and work in. These are known as the state board of optometry across the eyecare industry. Optometrists also keep your primary care physicians in the loop if you are dealing with degenerative visual diseases. This is essential in ensuring you receive the best pre and post-operative care should you require eye surgery. The latter, however, is usually performed by an ophthalmologist — since most optometrists are not licensed or trained to perform eye surgery.

What requirements must an optometrist pass?

An optometrist must complete a four-year college degree program in visual or associated sciences. He or she must also have completed four years of post-graduate training at an optometry school. These requirements are similar to those that want to become dentists. As an ophthalmologist, an optometrist must also continue education on a regular basis to maintain his or her license to practice visual medicine. They also have to stay abreast of all the latest industry changes to maintain current standards of eye care.

While an optometrist can prescribe eyeglasses for vision correction, it is an optician who generally fits glasses and contact lenses for patients. This is the main difference between an optometrist and optician in the eyecare industry.