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Optometrists , Ophthalmologists, Optical Dispensers - what's the difference?

Optometrists conduct eye and vision examinations, prescribe spectacles and contact lenses and carry out treatment for eye disorders. Optometrists do not perform surgery, but may use drugs to treat eye diseases in some States. Optometrists must complete a four year university qualification specifically on the eye and its care before they can be registered to practice.

Optometrists may also dispense eyewear, such as glasses and contact lenses, from their own practice. An increasing proportion of the work optometrists do relates to eye disease and problems which affect the way in which the eyes work together (binocular vision). Optometrists provide approximately three quarters of all eye examinations given by eye care professionals in Australia.

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Ophthalmologists are medical practitioners who concentrate on treating eye disease with drugs and surgery. Although their specialist training is centered in these areas they also prescribe spectacles.

There is a considerable degree of overlap in the services optometrists and ophthalmologists provide. Both perform refraction and prescribe spectacles and contact lenses, both are qualified in the detection of eye disease and there is a growing overlap in the treatment of minor ocular disorders. Only ophthalmologists perform major eye surgery and treat serious eye disease.

  Optical dispensers
Optical dispensers grind and fit lenses and sell spectacles according to a prescription written by an optometrist or medical practitioner. Some optical dispensers and optical dispensing chains utilise optometrists or ophthalmologists either on the premises (when the law permits) or in adjacent premises for obtaining prescriptions for spectacles.

Optical dispensers are frequently employed by optometrists as assistants in optometric practices.


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