In caring for the eyesight, most of us think that all eye care specialists are the same. Yet in fact, in Optometry there are various fields of specialization concerning the eye’s vision, visual systems and the human vision information processing. Therefore there isn’t only a sole eye care consultant who is able to properly care and treat all issues concerning the eyes.
The most common eye care specialist is the Optometrist. The optometrist identifies common eye diseases and disorders. If the patient only require routine check-ups or new prescription for glasses and contact lenses, then an Optometrist is licensed to do the job and perform refractive vision correction on us.
An Ophthalmologist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor with specialization in surgical eye care. To become specialize in this career is a lengthy one. It requires four college years and medical school years, then another four to six years of residency, internship or training which is a total of 12-14 years. Given that the patient has a specific problem with the eyes such as diseases, trauma or infection, they needs to seek the services of an ophthalmologist. Who will perform a complete eye examination on the patient, then recommend the treatment or surgery necessary depending on the conditions.
There are particular eye care professionals in the United Kingdom called Ophthalmic Medical Practitioners. This is an occupation for qualified doctors, employed to carry out medical eye examination and to prescribe glasses on the premises of an Optometrist. These professionals have be medically trained and are required to hold a higher diploma, membership and/or fellowship in Ophthalmology from the Royal College of Ophthalmologists or equivalent qualifications as approved by the Ophthalmic Qualification Committee.
As outlined by the International Orthoptic Association, an Orthoptist’s job involves the evaluation and treatment of disorders in vision, eye movements, and eye alignment for both children and adults. This eye care specialist is the link between the patient and an ophthalmologist, assisting in the explanation and evaluation. The standard education of an Orthoptist in many countries including the USA is three years of college and two more post graduate college years. In Australia and some other countries, it requires a four years in a master’s degree.
The fabrication and fitting of ocular prostheses for people who have lot eyesight after traumas or illnesses is handled by an Ocularist. These Ocularist starts by taking an impression of the eye socket, then uses that impression to shape the plastic shell, painting the iris and finally fits the prosthetic eye. In addition, the Ocularist also show the patient how to care for and handle the prosthesis. Training and registration differs as there is no specific training program for Ocularist these days.
An Optician is a professional who specializes in the fabrication of ophthalmic lenses, spectacles, contact lenses, low vision aids and ocular prosthetics. A regulated profession in most places, an Optician uses different equipments in dispensing eye wear such as lensometer and pupilometer.
Ophthalmic Medical Personnel is the collective term for allied assistants in eye caring. Ophthalmic Assistants, as they are called in many countries, have trained for two to three years in applied science and works in hospitals or clinics with ophthalmologists or orthoptists. In USA, there are three categories: Certified Ophthalmic Assistant for entry level, Certified Ophthalmic Technician for intermediate level and for advanced level is the Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist.