If you have a vision concern, you may have trouble choosing eye care specialists in Meridian, MS. Many people are often unsure about seeing an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Though both can administer diagnostic tests and treatments for certain conditions, there are differences in their scope of practice. Here’s a guide to help you decide:

What an Ophthalmologist Is

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of various eye conditions. These professionals have completed a full, four-year Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, followed by a residency training program in ophthalmology, which takes 4 to 7 years.

The comprehensive training of ophthalmologists provides them with a wider scope of work. They can offer patients tailored treatment plans, along with visual acuity tests and other basic optometry services. They can also prescribe medication and perform various surgical procedures for all types of eye diseases.

Many ophthalmologists also take subspecialties. For example, a cornea specialist can take care of a patient with a rare condition affecting the outer surface of the eye.

What an Optometrist Is

Unlike ophthalmologists, optometrists don’t have to undergo a full medical education. Rather, they immediately proceed to a Doctor of Optometry program (O.D.), which takes 4 years to complete.

An optometrist’s practice focuses on vision therapy and routine eye exams. They prescribe contact lenses and other visual-enhancing or -corrective devices. They also assess the eyes for defects, diseases, and injuries and provide treatment for minor problems, like dry eyes and stuck foreign objects.

Optometrists are not licensed to treat serious conditions and perform surgical treatments. They may only do the latter if they’ve taken an additional clinical program and are state-licensed.

Which Should You Choose?

The better choice depends on your needs. Visit an optometrist for primary eye care services: if you need to take an annual eye test, get or replace prescription lenses, or receive medication for common ailments, such as seasonal allergies. But, if you experience discomfort and are unsure about the condition, it’s best to call an ophthalmologist.

Seek Help From Trusted Eye Care Specialists in Meridian, MS

Even if your eyesight seems fine and you don’t feel any pain, visiting the doctor regularly is essential to keeping your eye health in top shape. Our specialists at Primary Eyecare and Optical of Meridian can help you with our comprehensive routine exams. These allow early detection and treatment of different conditions, protecting you from possible complications. Contact us now to schedule an appointment.