Ophthalmologists are “…medical and osteopathic doctors who provide comprehensive eye care, including medical, surgical and optical care.” In the US, this requires four years of college, four years of medical school, one year general internship, three years of residency, then optional fellowship for 1 to 2 years (typically 12–14 years of education after high school). An ophthalmologist can perform all the tests an optometrist can and in addition is a fully qualified medical doctor and surgeon. Ophthalmologists undergo extensive and intensive medical and surgical exams to qualify and entrance criteria to a training program is highly competitive. Some ophthalmologists receive additional advanced training (or fellowship) in specific areas of ophthalmology, such as retina cornea, glaucoma, laser vision correction, paediatric ophthalmology, uveitis, pathology, or neuro ophthalmology.
An ophthalmic medical practitioner is a medical doctor (MD) who specialises in ophthalmic conditions but who has not completed a specialisation in ophthalmology.
The World Council of Optometry, a member of the World Health Organisation, defines optometrists as “…the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system who provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye, and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system.”
A Doctor of Optometry (OD) attends four years of college, four years of optometry school and then an optional one-year residency. Optometrists undergo extensive and intensive refractive and medical training mainly pertaining to the eye and the entrance criteria to attend optometry school is also highly competitive. An OD is fully qualified to treat eye diseases and disorders and specialises in optics and vision correction. Permissions granted by an optometric license vary by location.
Ocularists specialise in the fabrication and fitting of ocular prostheses for people who have lost eyes due to trauma or illness.
Opticians specialise in the fitting and fabrication of ophthalmic lenses, spectacles, contact lenses, low vision aids and ocular prosthetics. They may also be referred to as an "optical dispenser", "dispensing optician", "ophthalmic dispenser". The prescription for the corrective lenses must be supplied by an ophthalmologist, optometrist or in some countries an orthoptist. This is a regulated profession in most jurisdictions.
A collective term for allied health personnel in ophthalmology. It is often used to refer to specialized personnel (unlike ocularists or opticians). In many countries these allied personnel may just be known as an "ophthalmic assistant". Their training is usually combined with a two or three year applied science degree and they assist an ophthalmologist or optometrist in the hospital or clinic with vision testing.
In the USA the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology administers OMP certifications:
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