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Should I See an Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist?

Should I See an Ophthalmologist or an Optometrist?

Healthy eyes and clear vision are essential for your child, and that means having regular eye exams to look for early signs of problems. The next step is deciding who your child should see: an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

At ABC Children's Eye Specialists, we offer both options at our locations in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, making it easier to ensure your child gets the most appropriate care for their unique vision needs. Take a moment as our team offers a quick overview of both types of eye health practitioners.

Ophthalmologist vs. optometrist

Both ophthalmologists and optometrists are eye doctors, attending (usually) four years of graduate school following their undergraduate education. 

After those four years, optometrists typically have one year of residency, while an ophthalmologist has four. Some ophthalmologists choose to do an additional fellowship year or two to specialize in one specific area of care (like pediatrics).

The type of degree they receive also differs. An ophthalmologist will have either an MD (medical doctor) or a DO (doctor of osteopathy) designation after their name, while an optometrist has a doctor of optometry degree (OD).

Both optometrists and ophthalmologists can perform eye exams and prescribe lenses. Ophthalmologists can also perform complex eye surgeries and treat more complex eye diseases. 

Opticians, a third type of eye professional, focus solely on helping you select the right lenses and frames based on a prescription from your child’s optometrist or ophthalmologist. Opticians don’t perform exams or write vision prescriptions, and they don’t provide treatment for eye or vision problems.

The right option for your child

Generally speaking, if your child needs an eye exam or if they need to have a current prescription evaluated or updated, an optometrist is a great choice. Our optometrists perform comprehensive eye exams to help kids maintain the clear vision that’s essential for school, play, and quality of life. 

Our team also checks for common vision issues that often show up in childhood, like farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism, along with issues like amblyopia (“lazy eye”) and strabismus (crossed eyes). 

Optometrists are also an excellent choice if your child wears contact lenses or wants to be fitted for contacts.

For more complex vision issues, or if your child has risk factors for specific types of eye problems, an ophthalmologist can help. In fact, our optometrists may refer you to one of our ophthalmologists based on the findings of an initial exam. 

Of course, your child can also see an ophthalmologist for their initial comprehensive eye exam, if you prefer.

Vision care for every child’s needs

Our team is dedicated to providing the most appropriate care for every patient, with tailored solutions that focus on your child’s eye health. To schedule an eye exam for your child, call our offices to book an appointment with the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists today.

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