Optometrists, ophthalmologists and opticians have been referred to as the 3 O’s. How are they different?


Optometrists are independent primary health care providers who specialize in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease and disorders of the eyes.

We perform comprehensive eye exam which includes a vision exam and an eye health exam. We are able to write glasses and contact lens prescription for people who have vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism (distortion in vision) and presbyopia (reading problems after the age of 40s). After an eye health exam, should an eye disease like glaucoma or dry eye syndrome be detected, we can prescribe medication to treat it. We also provide urgent eye care, such as removing foreign body, treating eye infection, allergy and inflammation. Optometrists work along side with family doctors and ophthalmologists (eye surgeons). When eye surgeries are necessary, we can make a referrals to ophthalmologists.


Ophthalmologists are medically trained eye physicians and surgeons who focus on detecting and treating eye diseases. In addition to what optometrists do, they also perform surgeries.


Opticians are not eye doctors, but they are important part of an eye care team. Opticians can fit and dispense glasses with a prescription written by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Opticians do not diagnose or treat eye diseases.

In summary:

Opticians Optometrists Ophthalmologists
Education Diploma

(1-2 years)

Doctor of Optometry

(8-9 years)

Doctor of Medicine

(8-12 years)

Eye Exam No Yes Yes
Dispense Glasses  & Contact Lenses Yes Yes No
Vision Therapy No Yes No
Prescribe Medications No Yes Yes
Perform Surgeries No No Yes

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