Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, or Optician?

Doctor examining patient's eye

Who do I need to make an appointment with?

We have many providers with a wide range of responsibilities in our practice.  Choosing the right eye care provider is critical to your vision and ocular health. Do you know what type of provider you need to see? The first step to choosing an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or optician is understanding the difference between each provider.

What is an Optometrist?

Optometrists are Doctors of Optometry (OD) that focus on the eye. Specifically, they prescribe glasses and contact lenses and provide various therapies and treatments. Optometrists concentrate on the detection, treatment, and management of eye diseases. Optometrists also offer treatments that ophthalmologists  typically do not, such as vision therapy, low vision, specialty contact lens fitting services, and more.  Our Optometrists offer Ortho-K lenses, specialty contact lenses, and other vision services to our patients.  They are experts in glasses and contact lenses, and the array of options available to best serve you.  Optometrists are a primary care doctor for your eye.  If there is a condition that requires surgery, such as cataracts, pterygium, or posterior capsule opacity, they will refer you to an Ophthalmologist.  Surgical patients are often co-managed with the Optometrists, who are capable of assisting in post-operative care, or pre-operative treatment of conditions such as Dry Eye.   If you are scheduling an annual appointment for a new glasses or contacts prescription and general health management, an Optometrist is your best choice.

What is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor that specializes in the eye, primarily performing surgeries and treating serious diseases. Ophthalmologists are often in high-demand, and may require a referral to obtain an appointment. Ophthalmologists may perform refractions.  Patients with complex issues, neurological  referrals, or other issues are often referred directly to an Ophthalmologist by a primary or specialty doctor.  Patients interested in LASIK or PRK vision correction will need to see an Ophthalmologist for the surgical process.

What is an Optician?

An Optician is a specially licensed technician who can help you select, fit, and adjust glasses that have been prescribed to you.  They are not a doctor, and may not  prescribe glasses, but they can adjust the fit and other details of your glasses.  If you feel like you are not seeing well with your glasses, or that your glasses do not fit, talk to your Optician first to make sure your glasses are clean and adjusted correctly.

Optometrist vs. Ophthalmologist vs. Optician?

In general, when thinking about using an Optometrist versus an Ophthalmologist or Optician, follow the below rule of thumb:

·        You will need to see an Ophthalmologist if you have a serious eye condition, have been referred by another doctor, may need surgery, or want vision correction surgery.

·         See an optometrist if you need an eye exam, are monitoring a common eye condition, need to update your prescription for glasses or contact lenses, or are unsure about the status of your eye health.

·         Go to an optician to purchase glasses or to get your glasses adjusted.

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Short Hills

551 Millburn Ave
Short Hills, NJ 07078
Fax: 973-379-1317
Mo: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Th: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fr: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm


777 Passaic Ave Suite 485
Clifton, NJ 07012
Fax: 973-473-4811
Mo: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Tu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
We: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fr: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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