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Defining The Three O's

Patients often get "The Three O's" confused.  What are "The Three O's?"  The roles and responsibilities of an optometrist, ophthalmologist, and opticians are often confused.  All of the "O's" are vital to providing patients with the quality eye care they deserve.

What is an Optometrist

A Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) is a health care professional trained and state licensed to provide primary eye care services. These services include comprehensive eye health and vision examinations; diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases including glaucoma, cataracts and vision disorders; the detection of general health problems; the prescribing of glasses, contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy and medications; the performing of certain surgical procedures; and the counseling of patients regarding their surgical alternatives and vision needs as related to their occupations, avocations and lifestyle.

The optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education in a college or university and four years of professional education at a college of optometry, leading to the doctor of optometry (O.D.) degree.  Approximately 1 out of 10 optometrists completes a post doctoral residency.


An Ophthalmologist is a medical doctor that specializes in ocular surgery.  This specialization is attained during a 3 year post-doctoral residency, following medical school, where the focus is on ocular surgery and treating eye diseases.


Opticians are professionals in the field of designing, finishing, fitting and dispensing of eyeglasses and contact lenses, based on an eye doctor's prescription. The optician may also dispense colored and specialty lenses for particular needs as well as low-vision aids and artificial eyes.