An optometrist is the primary health-care provider for vision and eye health concerns in Ontario. Optometrists have completed a Bachelor’s degree, primarily in sciences, before completing their Doctorate of Optometry degree. The doctorate is an additional four years of study including classroom and clinical education. They may do an additional year of clinical residency training. Optometrists are highly educated and clinically trained to examine and treat the eyes and visual systems of any patient, regardless of their age.
An ophthalmologist is the secondary-level health-care provider. They are surgeons and specialists in eye disease who have completed a Bachelor Degree and four years of medical school at an accredited university. They have completed a residency in medical and surgical care of the eyes at an accredited university hospital. Patients usually require a referral from their optometrist to obtain an appointment with an ophthalmologist.
Opticians are the third member of the eye care team. They are trained and licensed through a college program to fabricate, fit and adjust vision aids based on the prescription of an optometrist. They do not assess, diagnose or treat eye conditions, and they cannot check or write prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
All three professions are governed by their respective Colleges under the authority of the Regulated Health Professions Act.
Regular comprehensive eye exams with an optometrist are important to maintain eye health and good vision.