As parents we want the absolute best for our kids; and finding the best eye care for our children should be no exception.  If your child fails their vision test, it’s time to assemble an eye care team that will cater to your child’s unique needs.

There are four main types of eye care professionals:  ophthalmologistsoptometrists, opticians and orthoptists.  Try to say that five times fast!   If we break each of these terms down, we can better understand which eye care professional is BEST suited for your child’s eyes.

Ophthalmologist | Op-thal-mol-o-gist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in medical eye conditions and vision care and can perform surgery as part of a treatment plan (unlike an optometrist).  They’ve graduated from medical school and have completed 12-13 years of training and education.

You can think of an ophthalmologist as the whole package!

Pediatric Ophthalmologist / Pee-dee-at-rick Op-thal-mol-o-gist

Pediatric opthamologists like Dr. Kohara, have additional training, experience and expertise in working with kids.  They specifically study eye conditions and treatment in children.  They are more adept than general ophthalmologists at working with parents and kids so you can relax knowing your child is in the best hands possible.  A pediatric ophthalmologist is also trained to treat strabismus (a visual defect in which one eye cannot focus with the other on an object due to an imbalance).

Orthoptist / Or-thop-tist

An orthoptist works closely with pediatric ophthalmologist, providing care in a pediatric or neuro-ophthalmology setting.  They specialize in visual function assessment and neuromuscular anomalies of the eyes, which means they’re also able to measure and monitor strabismus.

Optometrist / Op-tom-e-tryst

An optometrist is a healthcare professional who provides basic eye and vision care.  An optometrist is NOT a medical doctor.  Optometrists have completed 6-8 years of training and education.  They are licensed to perform optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses and detecting certain eye abnormalities.  However, more complex eye conditions are best suited for the ophthalmologist.

Optician / Op-tish-an

An optician is a technician that is trained to design, verify and fit eyeglass lenses and framescontact lenses and other devices to correct eyesight.  They use prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or optometrists, but do not test vision or write prescriptions for visual correction.  Opticians are not trained or permitted to diagnose, treat or perform surgery on eye diseases.

Ophthalmic Technician/ Assistant / Op-thal-mic

An ophthalmic technician is a versatile member of the team who plays an important role in patient care.  They familiarize patients with eye care procedures they will undergo or experience during their appointment.  They will also take your patient history, administer any tests, and assist the ophthalmologist as need be.

In closing…

A clear understanding of how these professionals relate will be the difference between good and great eye health for your child, not just now but for years to come.

In many cases, ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians will collaborate to meet your child’s treatment plan needs.  Choosing a board-certified ophthalmologist, like Dr. Kohara, will yield safe, seamless and effective care for your child under one roof.

References: 

  • The Discovery Eye Foundation. (2014).  “20 facts about the amazing eye.” Retrieved from shorturl.at/fqtzS
  • Salvin, J.H., MD. (2014). “Your child’s vision.” Retrieved from shorturl.at/biouP
  • OpticianEDU.org
  • Eyewikiaao.org

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