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What is the Difference Between an Ophthalmologist and an Optometrist in Canada?

Ophthalmologist & Optometrist Difference - Tonic Eye Care & Vision Therapy

It’s important to be informed when it comes to your health, especially your eyes. With respect to vision care, a common question that is asked is what are the main differences between the different health professionals. Understanding the roles and the services that each provides can help you get the proper eye care and appropriate solutions that you need.

The differences between a Doctor of Optometry (Optometrist), an Ophthalmologist, and an Optician, will depend on the levels of expertise, training, and core competencies and functions.

Doctors of Optometry (Optometrists)

Optometrists are often referred to as “eye doctors”, and are the primary healthcare provider for your eye health. Optometrists in Ontario are regulated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario. A Doctor of Optometry will have completed a Bachelor of Science degree, followed by a four year Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited university’s school of Optometry. They are educated, clinically trained, and licensed to deliver the best standard of comprehensive primary eye care.

They perform eye exams to check the overall health of your eyes and issue prescriptions for corrective lenses. On a visit to the optometrist, you can expect to be asked questions about your medical history and vision – this will play an important role in uncovering and understanding your overall eye health and medical conditions which could impact your vision.

The eye exam typically includes visual acuity (how well you can see letters/symbols from a distance), ability to see colour, depth perception, retinal health, and the pressure inside your eyes. In addition, optometrists can dispense contact lenses and eyeglasses. Eye drops may be used to dilate your pupils to help to check for conditions such as cataracts or other diseases. Although these tests generally do not cause significant discomfort, your eyes may become overly sensitive to light for a few hours.

Optometrists can provide the following services:

  • Optometric eye exam to examine, assess, measure, and diagnose disorders and diseases within the human eye and visual system, such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Recognize and co-manage related systemic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and brain tumors.
  • Fit and dispense eyewear – including glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, safety eyewear and low-vision aids.
  • Prescribe medications.
  • Remove foreign bodies from the eye.
  • Provide referrals to secondary specialists, i.e. ophthalmologists.
  • Co-manage pre- and post-operative care for laser vision correction.
  • Co-manage ocular diseases with ophthalmologists.
  • Conduct research and promote education and advancement in the visual sciences.

Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists are surgeons and specialize in eye health and related diseases. They have a Bachelor of Science degree and four years of medical school at an accredited university, as well as a residency in medical and surgical care of the eyes. It is the additional post-graduate training that qualifies them to treat eye diseases both medically and surgically.

Ophthalmologists in Ontario are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. They are considered secondary-level healthcare providers and patients require a referral from their Doctor of Optometry to see them.

Opticians

Opticians are the eyecare professionals that fit, adjust, and dispense prescription and non-prescription eyewear. Although they do not perform eye exams nor prescribe, they can, however, fill your prescription of a doctor of Optometry. Opticians are licensed to dispense contact lenses, glasses, and other optical aids.

Opticians in Ontario are regulated by the College of Opticians of Ontario. If your eye prescription has expired, a significant time has passed since your last full eye exam, or you are experiencing issues with the health of your eyes, the optician can recommend that you visit an optometrist for a full eye exam.

Your Local Optometrist

Regular checkups with an eye doctor are very important because a professional eye exam will determine what type of care your eyes need and whether or not your vision is healthy. If you’re looking for an optometrist in the Toronto area, contact Tonic Eye Care today for all of your vision needs!

Easily order your contact lenses and nutraceutical products (eye drops, eyelid wipes, omega-3 supplements, etc.) online! Returning patients will automatically have your prescriptions in our system.

Free shipping on all contact lens orders! If you would like us to directly bill your insurance, please contact us by phone or email before placing your online order.

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