4 O's in Eye Care


Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine specializing in the anatomy, function and diseases of the eye. Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus (strabismus is misalignment of the eyes) is a subspecialty of ophthalmology that deals with maintaining the health of children's eyes and vision, the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of children's eye disorders, and the diagnosis and treatment of double vision or eye muscle disorders in children and adults. An ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Eye M.D.s are specially trained to provide the full spectrum of eye care, from prescribing glasses and contact lenses to complex and delicate eye surgery. Many ophthalmologists are also involved in scientific research into the causes and cures for eye diseases and vision problems. In addition to four years of medical school and one year of internship, an ophthalmologist spends a minimum of three years of residency (hospital-based training) in ophthalmology. During residency, Eye M.D.s receive special training in all aspects of eye care, including prevention, diagnosis and medical and surgical treatment of eye conditions and diseases. Pediatric ophthalmologists spend an additional one or more years in fellowship training in the medical and surgical care of children's eyes and eye muscle problems in adults. Visit www.aao.org to learn more about ophthalmology.


An optometrist (O.D., or optometric doctor) is trained to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders that affect the eye or vision. After attending a university or college for their undergraduate education, optometry students concentrate specifically on the structure, function and disorders of the eye for 4 additional years during their graduate education to earn their doctoral degree. While concentrating on the eye and visual system, optometrists also study general health in courses such as human anatomy, biochemistry and physiology. They receive extensive training in the fitting of standard and specialty contact lenses and low vision devices. In addition, some optometrists complete a one or more year residency in a specialized area. In New York and many other states, optometrists are licensed to use prescription medication to diagnose and treat eye disorders. Optometrists may also participate in scientific research in vision science and diseases of the eye. Visit www.aoa.org to learn more about optometry.


Orthoptics is an ophthalmic field pertaining to the evaluation and treatment of patients with disorders of the visual system with an emphasis on binocular vision and eye movements. Orthoptists are uniquely skilled in diagnostic techniques. Orthoptics is a versatile field with opportunities and responsibilities in a variety of clinical settings. Orthoptists may serve their communities in private ophthalmology practices. Others may work in hospital or medical university settings with involvement in patient care, academics and clinical research. Orthoptists may serve as directors or advisors of state and local vision screening programs. Orthoptists commonly work in pediatric ophthalmology settings. Orthoptists serve patients of all ages, but because of the nature of many binocular disorders, the majority of patients are children. Adult care in the field of Orthoptics is uniquely challenging and rewarding, found in settings of ophthalmology specific to neuro-ophthalmology and adult eye muscle disorders. Visit www.orthoptics.org to learn more about orthoptics.


Opticians are eye health care professionals who work with ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide vision services. With a two-year technical degree, opticians analyze and interpret eye prescriptions; determine the lenses that best meet a person's needs; oversee ordering and verification of eye-related products from start to finish; and dispense, replace, adjust, repair, and reproduce contacts, eyeglasses, and frames. Visit www.oaa.org for the Optician's Association of America website.

Eye health is the result of a working partnership between you and your eye health care provider. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, orthoptists, and opticians work collectively and with the patient to ensure good eye health and lifelong vision.