Your eye health and vision depend on knowing which kind of eye doctor to see and when. Getting your eyes regularly checked is important. Additionally, make sure you are seeing the right kind of eye doctor for your needs. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right eye doctor for you!

There Are Different Kinds of Eye Doctors?

Yes. As there are different specialties in medicine, there are also many specialties in ophthalmology. It’s important to understand the differences between different kinds of eye doctors. You should also know when to see each kind.


Ophthalmologists specialize in vision and eye care. They are the equivalent of a general practitioner but for your eyes. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in a few ways. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors with a college degree. After getting their college degree, they complete 8 or more years of medical training.  Ophthalmologists get licensed to practice medicine in their respective field and perform surgeries.

Ophthalmologists are able to diagnose all kinds of conditions of the eye. They also are able to perform eye surgeries. Besides diagnosis and surgeries, ophthalmologists can prescribe glasses and contacts.   When patients have nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, an ophthalmologist fits glasses and contacts.

There are also sub-specialists in ophthalmology who have trained in a specific area. Sub-specialists often complete two or more fellowships. This is usually in one of the following areas: glaucoma, pediatrics, or plastic surgery.


Opticians are technicians. These professionals are trained to handle designing, verifying, and fitting prescription eyeglasses. They are also able to fit frames and contact lenses for patients.

Optometrists do not diagnose eye diseases or treat them. They are also unable to test for refractive errors or write prescriptions. When an optician fits glasses, it’s with a prescription that’s already been written. This is written by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.


Optometrists provide primary eye and vision care. This ranges from eye testing and prescribing treatment, to ongoing management. It is important to know that an optometrist is not an M.D.

An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry. This is after completing a 4-year degree, and a four-year optometry program.  Optometrists are able to perform eye exams and vision testing. They can also prescribe patients glasses and medications for some conditions.

When Should I Go Have An Eye Exam?

To ensure your eyes are always healthy, you should have regular eye exams starting as an infant. If you have a family history of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or glaucoma, go more.

Some eye conditions like glaucoma have no symptoms, making regular exams more important. If your eyes are healthy, you can go to the eye doctor every other year in adulthood.

Even if you haven’t kept up with going to the eye doctor, it’s never too late to start! Your eyes are a crucial part of the way you see the world around you.

Can’t remember the last time you saw your ophthalmologist? Contact Riverside Eye Center for an appointment today!