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Optometrists, Orthoptists and Ophthalmologists: What’s the difference?

03 November 2017

Managing your eye health is important. Chances are if you have low vision, you will need see several providers, but it can feel more like the final round of a spelling bee than a health care decision when you’re figuring out the differences between ophthalmologists and orthoptists.

So, what do optometrists, orthoptists, and ophthalmologists do?

Optometrists

Optometrists are eye care professionals who examine the eyes and visual systems to detect vision changes and diagnose eye diseases.

On an average day, an optometrist will examine eyes to diagnose eye conditions and prescribe corrective lenses.

Often, the optometrist will be a person’s first point of contact before they are referred to Ophthalmologists and Orthoptists.

Image shows lenses and equipment used to test a person's vision
Ophthalmologists

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors who have further specialised in medical and surgical eye disease. Most commonly, ophthalmologists are involved in the assessment, diagnosis and medical treatment of eye disease.

Many eye conditions can be treated with medication, surgery, or other medical interventions, and ophthalmologists manage this.

Ophthalmologists are also highly specialised, which means individuals with complex care needs may see multiple ophthalmologists to ensure all aspects of their condition are managed appropriately.

Orthoptists

Orthoptists are eye care professionals who work with patients to manage a broad range of eye diseases.

Orthoptists are involved in the management of eye diseases like cataracts, glaucoma, lazy eye, and macular degeneration.

Often, Orthoptists will work in clinics alongside Ophthalmologists working on assessing and managing people’s eye conditions.

At Vision Australia our Orthoptists are further specialised in low vision, and work with people to assess how they can get the most out of their functional vision.

This can range from identifying the appropriate level of magnification to help a person read text comfortably, to the kind of lighting or contrast that suits them.

 If you want support with your eye care, or specialist low vision help, connect with our services by emailing info@visionaustralia.org or call  1800 03 77 73

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