Vision services are important to your overall health and well-being, but it’s hard to remember who does what when it comes to eye care. As I thought more on this, I suspected some of our Reid Health Allianceä members might struggle with this, too.
It can be confusing to know which type of vision professional to go to for what. Let’s clear things up.
Opticians are specially-trained technicians who can fill your eye doctor’s prescription for glasses or contact lenses. They don’t diagnose eye problems. Their skill is in fixing your vision with glasses or contacts. They can also suggest which frame and lens look the best on you. They’ve seen thousands of patients try on glasses. I always listen to their advice. There are also many options available with contact lenses, and the optician can help order those.
Optometrists aren’t medical doctors but must have a degree as a doctor of optometry before they can treat patients. They can test your vision, screen you for some diseases and write prescriptions. They will, in some instances, fit you with your glasses or corrective lenses. (I find their waiting rooms often have the most up-to-date magazines, so I don’t usually mind the wait.)
Ophthalmologists treat a broad range of eye problems with exams and sometimes surgery. They have a medical degree and a lot of training. They often have a special focus (a natural pun), like treating patients with glaucoma or retina problems. In some cases, they also prescribe corrective lenses. (They must have very steady hands, and I’ve often wondered if that’s how they select their specialty. Just a theory, of course.)
Our members get a free vision exam each year as part of their benefits with one of our in-network providers. As always, your regular doctor’s office is a good place to start if you’re unsure where to go. He or she will know just the right type of eye professional for your needs.
Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she’s a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning and technology.
Like this article? Feel free to respond to CoveredBridge@HealthAlliance.org. Thanks for reading!