Optometrists, Ophthalmologists & Opticians: What’s The Difference And Who Should I See?

what's the difference between optometrist, optician and ophthalmologist?

When it comes to taking care of our eyes, it can be confusing to know who to turn to for help. Opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists are phrases used to describe eye care professionals. While they are often used interchangeably, they actually have different roles and responsibilities. By understanding the way these individuals can help you to take care of your eyesight, you’re guaranteed to find an effective solution, quicker. Follow the guide we have created to get started. 

What’s the difference between opticians, optometrists & ophthalmologists ? 

We’re going to take a closer look at the differences between opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists, helping you to choose the right eye care professional for your needs.

What does an optometrist do? 

An optometrist is a medical professional who specialises in eye care. They are trained to carry out comprehensive eye exams, to examine, diagnose and treat a variety of eye conditions and diseases, including:

  • Vision problems such as near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism
  • Eye infections and injuries
  • Glaucoma, cataracts, and other age-related eye conditions
  • Systemic diseases that affect the eyes, such as diabetes and hypertension

Optometrists also prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems and may provide vision therapy to help improve eye muscle coordination and visual processing skills.

what does an optometrist do?

What does an optician do? 

An optician is a specialist who helps you choose and fit eyeglasses, contact lenses and other optical devices. They work with prescriptions provided by optometrists or ophthalmologists to ensure that the lenses and frames are properly fitted and adjusted for optimal vision and comfort.

Opticians help customers to choose the right type of eyewear for their needs; from selecting lenses with anti-glare coatings to recommending sports goggles for active lifestyles. In our stores, our friendly opticians lead our eyewear styling consultation service, designed to make it easier than ever to find designer prescription glasses that suit a person’s individual style. They may also perform repairs and adjustments to your eyewear to ensure that it fits properly and functions optimally.

What does an ophthalmologist do?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specialises in eye and vision care. They have completed extensive medical training and are licensed to practice medicine and perform surgical procedures related to the eyes.

Ophthalmologists provide a wide range of services, including:

  1. Diagnosing and treating Eye Conditions
  2. Surgical procedures
  3. Prescribing medications
  4. Comprehensive eye examinations
  5. Referrals and collaborations
  6. Management of eye injuries
  7. Research and teaching

It’s important to highlight that ophthalmologists have completed medical school and specialised residency training in ophthalmology. They have a comprehensive understanding of general medicine as well as the diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions, making them qualified to provide a broad range of eye care services, including surgical interventions.

Training and qualifications: differences between opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists 

Qualifications are the main way to distinguish between opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists, and we’ve outlined how they differ below.


Optometrists undergo a training for 3-4 years to get a Bachelor of Science Degree in Optometry. So they need a degree in Optometry. You can check here what are the entry requirements to become an Optometrist for the NHS


Opticians are not eye doctors, they need to get a diploma course or a 1 or 2 years degree at university.


Ophthalmologists, as mentioned above, they are medical trained doctors who have completed their 5 to 6 years in achieving a general medical degree. They also undergo other types of advanced training to provide the highest level of care.

Our optician in Eastbourne

How should I choose the right eye care professional?

When it comes to choosing the right eye care professional for your needs, it’s important to consider your specific concerns. If you have general eye health issues, or are experiencing vision problems, an optometrist is typically the best choice. They can perform comprehensive eye exams to diagnose and treat a variety of eye conditions, as well as prescribe corrective lenses to improve your vision.

If you need help selecting and fitting eyeglasses, contact lenses or other optical devices, an optician can help you find the right solution for your needs. They can also perform adjustments and repairs to ensure that your eyewear fits properly and functions optimally.

We have opticians that can help you in Eastbourne, Colchester, Catford, Haywards Heath and Southfields, and all of our colleagues are here to help you find the best solutions for your needs. If you have more serious eye conditions or require surgery, you may need to see an ophthalmologist, which isn’t a service we can provide – we’d suggest contacting your GP care provider for more information. 

When choosing an eye care professional, be sure to check their qualifications, experience and reputation. You can also ask for referrals from friends, family or your primary care doctors, or look for reviews online. Choose our trusted practices to take care of your vision needs, and contact us today or book your appointment online now.


Optometrists, ophthalmologists & opticians: FAQs

What is the primary role of an optician?

An optician is an eye care professional who specialises in fitting and dispensing glasses and contact lenses, based on prescriptions from optometrists or ophthalmologists. They do not perform eye exams or diagnose eye conditions.

What services does an optometrist provide?

An optometrist performs eye exams, diagnoses and treats certain eye conditions, prescribes glasses and contact lenses, and can provide treatment for common eye problems like infections and dry eyes. It’s worth noting that they are not medical doctors, but they hold a Doctor of Optometry degree.

How is an ophthalmologist different from an optometrist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specialises in eye and vision care, including performing eye surgeries. They can diagnose and treat all eye diseases, and prescribe medications. In contrast, an optometrist focuses on eye exams and vision care, and can treat some eye conditions but does not perform surgery.

When should I see an optician instead of an optometrist or ophthalmologist?

You should see an optician when you need to get a new prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses – if you’ve noticed your eyesight has gotten worse, or if you haven’t had a routine eye exam in a while, you would see an optician as a first port of call, providing you weren’t experiencing symptoms that need urgent care. They can help you choose the right frames and lenses, and they’ll ensure that your glasses fit properly – there’s also a few signs you can look out for if you think your current glasses don’t fit properly, but an optician will be able to confirm this. For your routine eye exams, you should see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Do I need a referral to see an ophthalmologist?

Most often, you will need a referral from your GP or an optometrist to see an ophthalmologist, especially for specialised treatments or surgeries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories