Whats the difference between an Optometrist and an Optician?
The official definition of Optometry is a long one! Basically, it is the study of primary eye and vision care.
The field of Optometry has become extremely vast in the past 30 years, and naturally, branches began to form in the field. The most widespread of these is the Dispensing Optician. Most people simply use the word “Optician” for everyone in the field, which is not strictly correct. Historically, we were all simply called Opticians. You may still see the words “Ophthalmic Optician” on some older premises.
The historical term for “Optometrist” was “Ophthalmic Optician”. An Optometrist is trained to provide eye and vision care, performs eye examinations to detect vision problems, and prescribes corrective lenses to correct those problems. Most Optometrists also make and fit spectacles. Optometrists are trained to fit contact lenses, and to provide complete aftercare for them. In Ireland, an Optometrist is not a medical doctor, and cannot prescribe medications. An Optometrist can provide eye exercises and dry eye treatments. When an optometrist detects eye disease, the patient may be referred instead to an Ophthalmologist, a physician who specialises in evaluating and treating diseases of the eye.
A Dispensing Optician is person trained to make and fit spectacles. They do not perform eye exams or fit contact lenses. Dispensing Opticians are fully trained and qualified to provide advice on the best type of spectacle frame and lenses for a patient, once the spectacle prescription has been determined. Technologies over the last couple of decades has made lens and frame choice extremely vast. This is where the Dispensing Optician comes in. Some Dispensing Opticians choose to study further, and some also become contact lens opticians or low vision specialists.
So, there are many kinds of Optician: Optometrist (Ophthalmic Optician), Dispensing Optician, Contact lens Optician, Low Vision Specialist… and many other areas of Optometry left to be explored!
A Great explanation provided thanks to Sandra Brady (FAOI), The Eye Centre opticians, Cavan.
Above is a youtube video which might also help explain some of what an optometrist does, the video also explain what an Opthamologist can do, if you need surgery, but always consult you Local EyeZone Optometrist first. There is a difference between European and American optometry in some elements of Prescribing and Diagnosis, but overall the video gives you and overview of Optometry. All EyeZone Opticians are run by Qualified optometrists and accredited by the Association of Optometrists ireland.