Optometrists, Ophthalmologists, Opticians. Who should I see?

The difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist and an optician is a common question.

The levels of training and expertise, and the core competencies, and the scope of practice are different for each type of eye care provider.

Last Updated: April 5, 2024


The optometrist is the primary care provider for the eye. An optometrist has completed a Bachelor of Science degree or higher, followed by a four-year Doctor of Optometry degree from an accredited university’s school of optometry. An optometrist is educated, clinically trained and licensed to deliver the best standard of comprehensive primary eye care.


Ophthalmologists are surgeons and specialists in eye disease. They are secondary- and tertiary-level healthcare providers. Patients normally require a referral from their optometrist to be seen by an ophthalmologist.


Opticians are trained through a college program to fabricate and fit vision aids, such as glasses, based on the prescription from an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Opticians are licensed to dispense spectacles, contact lenses and other optical aids. They do not assess, diagnose, or treat eye conditions, nor can they check or write prescriptions for eyeglasses or contact lenses.