An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) or osteopath (DO) who specializes in the treatment of the eye and visual system. In addition to providing routine eye care, ophthalmologists can diagnose and treat eye disease using medical or surgical techniques.
An optometrist is an eyecare professional who has completed four years of optometry school after graduating from college. Optometrists specialize in examination, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions of the visual system, including prescribing and fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses. Optometrists are not authorized to use surgical techniques to treat eye disease.
- Dispensing optician
A dispensing optician helps the patient with the selection of frames, and also measures, adjusts, and fits eyewear using prescriptions supplied by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- Laboratory optician
A laboratory optician can manufacture eyewear using prescriptions supplied by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- Optometric technician
An optometric technician performs the same duties as a dispensing optician, but has also had two years of formal training or has passed the National Optometric Registration Exam for technicians.
Optical facilities that have the capability to dispense eyewear are commonly called dispensing locations. Some dispensing locations have on-site manufacturing capabilities, but the majority of dispensing locations use offsite eyewear manufacturing facilities.
Diagnostic pharmaceutical agent (DPA) certification is granted to optometrists who have demonstrated capability to diagnose eye disease. State licensing agencies serve as the certifying body for DPA certification.
Therapeutic pharmaceutical agent (TPA) certification is granted to optometrists who have demonstrated capability to diagnose and treat eye disease. In addition, TPA certified optometrists can prescribe certain medications to treat eye disease. State licensing agencies serve as the certifying body for TPA certification.