Board certified doctors voluntarily meet additional standards beyond basic licensing. This is no different when it comes to eye care professionals. In the realm of eye care, these professionals are classified into three different groups, relative to the services each professional offers. The groups also indicate the type and level of training, as well as advanced and continuing education.
We’re going to look at what each eye care professional does, the type of training and education they receive, and what makes seeing a board certified ophthalmologist imperative for people who have certain types of vision issues.
What is the difference between an Optometrist and an Ophthalmologist?
Optometrist– Being an optometrist requires a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. They are not medical doctors, and their license only allows them to practice optometry. They can examine eyes, prescribe glasses or contact lenses, and prescribe some medications. They aren’t qualified to treat all eye problems.
Ophthalmologist– An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating eye problems. They are qualified to take care of eye and vision problems using medical and surgical methods. Ophthalmologists are also trained to detect and treat eye diseases and prescribe the correct medications. The education and training of an ophthalmologist is similar to the extent of an oral surgeon.
Optician – An optician is the person (or establishment) that constructs your glasses, dispenses your contact lenses, as well as fitting and adjustments for your lenses. They make your glasses so the lenses match the prescription your ophthalmologist or optometrist wrote for your glasses.
What Are the Benefits of Seeing an Ophthalmologist?
According to the National Consumers League, about 30% of consumers don’t know the difference between the types of eye doctors. However, it is important to know the great lengths Ophthalmologist go through to earn their certification.
Before anyone can become an ophthalmologist, they have to go through four years of college, graduate school, then gain entry into a medical school and successfully complete the medical degree. Upon graduation from medical school, an ophthalmologist must complete a four-year residency, as with all doctors who go on to specialize in any area of medicine.
The first year of that residency is spent as an intern learning about and practicing general medicine. The next three years (at the very least) are spent training in an accredited and approved university and hospital residency training program.
How Ophthalmologists Get Board Certified
After completing four years of medical school and a four-year residency, doctors who specialize in ophthalmology must sign a pledge and take a two-part exam. The exam, which is administered by the American Board of Ophthalmology, takes at least a year – if not two – to complete. The first part of the exam is the Written Qualifying Exam (WQE.) Candidates for board certification must pass the written exam to qualify to take the oral exam.
Once an ophthalmologist receives the certificate from the American Board of Ophthalmology, they earn the title of Diplomate of the American Board of Ophthalmology, and can include the designation after their name and MD for professional purposes. The certification lasts ten years, but is only valid if the eye doctor maintains the certification by fulfilling the requirements for continuing education.
When you see a board-certified ophthalmologist, you have the assurance that they’ve gone beyond the requirements to receive their medical license.
Board certification means that your eye doctor has earned that recognition and is maintaining his or her certification by taking required continuing education classes. Those classes are designed to teach doctors about the latest research, medical or surgical techniques, and discoveries that will lead to better patient care and improved vision quality.
Doctors who opt to become board certified understand that doing so comes with many responsibilities, but it also means that they are held to a higher standard. Doctors with board certification are highly committed to their practice.