What is the difference between Ophthalmology and Optometry?
Ophthalmology and Optometry are both disciplines concerned with the visual system. The differences lie on the scope and the professions in each. Ophthalmology is a discipline of medicine that focuses on the visual pathway and the surrounding organ systems; mainly on their diseases and surgery. An Ophthalmologist is then a doctor of medicine that specializes on the aforementioned. The discipline is also concerned on vision care and sensitive eye treatments. Ophthalmology requires 8 years of education and 2-4 years of surgical residency.
Optometry on the other hand is a healthcare profession that deals on the eyes in general and other related structures and areas such as vision, visual system, and information processing. An Optometrist is not a doctor of medicine but a doctor of optometry. He/She is trained to offer primary care to patients such as basic disease treatment and corrective procedures. Optometry requires 4 years of college, 4 years of optometry school, and an optional one-year residency.
With these differences in scope, an ophthalmologist must refer his/her patient to an optometrist for vision therapy, specialty contact lens fittings, optical aids, and low vision rehabilitation. The same thing applies for an optometrist; he/she must refer a patient to an ophthalmologist for deeper assessment, sensitive eye conditions, and treatment and surgical management of ocular conditions.