An eye care professional is an individual who provides a service related to the eyes or vision. It is a general term that can refer to any healthcare worker involved in eye care, from one with a small amount of post-secondary training to practitioners with a doctoral level of education.
Ophthalmologists are doctors that specialize in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system, and also in the prevention of eye disease and injury. They can be either doctors of medicine (M.D.) or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.). While medical doctors focus on disease-specific diagnosis and treatment, osteopaths concentrate on the loss of structure and function in different parts of the body caused by disease.
Optometrists are doctors of optometry (O.D.). They are trained to examine, diagnose, treat, and manage some diseases and disorders of the visual system. The optometrist has completed pre-professional undergraduate education and four years of professional education at an accredited college of optometry. (Optometrists do not attend medical school.) In addition, some optometrists may have completed a one-year optional residency in a specialized area.
Because being able to see is so important, you should be proactive in the care of your eyes. Taking a role in maintaining your sight and preventing its loss includes choosing a qualified eye health care provider -- one who has the right training and experience, can give proper diagnosis and treatment, is informative, promotes the best possible results, and shows genuine care for the health of his or her patients.