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Opticians and Optometrists: What’s the difference?

Who do you see for your valued vision care? It might be an optician or an optometrist; and for your next comprehensive eye exam, you’re likely to see both. There are key differences between each vision care professional, and these will affect the type of care they provide.

What is an Optician?

They are a vital part of the eye care team and play an important role in your comprehensive eye exam. Opticians are trained and educated professionals responsible for managing your vision pretests before you see the optometrist; these are determined based on your age and the reason for your visit. Towards the end of your appointment, the optician will read the prescription provided by the optometrist (if any), and help you find the right pair of lenses or frames, and the right fit, or dispense your contact lenses.

What is an Optometrist?

First and foremost, they are doctors of optometry. Optometrists carry both a Bachelor of Science degree and a Doctor of Optometry degree. Their comprehensive education allows them to complete thorough eye exams, write eyeglass or eye drop prescriptions, and make any necessary diagnoses. Optometrists can diagnose a wide range of health issues, some of which may not even pertain to your eyes or vision health. Doctors of optometry, with the help of the optician’s pretests, can:

  • Address mild vision disorders like near/farsightedness or dry eyes
  • Diagnose age-related vision disorders, like macular degeneration
  • Diagnose more serious  eye diseases like cataracts or glaucoma
  • Gather insight into other health problems like
  • Refer you to an ophthalmologist for further eye care or eye surgery (you do not need a referral to see our optometrists at Grande Prairie Eye Care, or any other vision centre)

Opthamologists are accredited eye surgeons, and will work with your optometrist to help manage post-operative eye care.

Visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists for more information.

Grande Prairie Eye Care • Last Update: Feb 03, 2022 • Originally published: Jun 07, 2022

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