What is a Doctor of Optometry?


Doctors of Optometry (O.D.s/optometrists) are the independent primary health care professionals for the eye. Optometrists examine, diagnose, treat, and manage diseases, injuries, and disorders of the visual system, the eye, and associated structures as well as identify related systemic conditions affecting the eye. 

  • Doctors of Optometry prescribe medications, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy, spectacle lenses, contact lenses, and perform certain surgical procedures.
  • Optometrists counsel their patients regarding surgical and non-surgical options that meet their visual needs related to their occupations, avocations, and lifestyle.
  • An optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree. Some optometrists complete an optional residency in a specific area of practice.
  • Optometrists are eye health care professionals state-licensed to diagnose and treat diseases and disorders of the eye and visual system.


An ophthalmologist is a surgical specialist who generally has a bachelor's degree, and 4 years of medical school followed by a residency where he/she is trained in eye surgery and eye disease. Ophthalmologists mainly perform surgery and treat diseases of the eye and surrounding structures, but may also prescribe glasses, and contact lenses.


Opticians are skilled craftsmen who manufacture lenses and optical devices. They fit, supply, repair and adjust devices that have been prescribed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They cannot prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or drugs.