Choosing the right eye specialist: optician vs optometrist

The importance of vision cannot be stressed enough. Yet, when it comes to eye care, we all have been there. We often wonder whether we need to see an optician vs an optometrist. Let us take a look at the specialisation of each occupation to decide who we should see for all sorts of conditions from simple and complicated eye problems to routine care and maintenance.


Whether it’s a minor eye irritation or a serious vision problem, there’s no doubt that we have to seek medical opinion and treatment. Going to the optician vs. optometrist may seem like a confusing choice, but if you know what these specialists do, then you know where to go.

  • What an optician does

In terms of education background, an optician receives a 4-year degree in opticianry. Opticians are licensed to dispense and fit eyeglasses and contact lenses. They make sure the frames are adequate and right for your particular eye condition. They cannot prescribe corrective eyeglasses or lenses to patients. Put simply, opticians are the technical people who work on your eye devices to ensure they fit properly and the eye prescriptions are respected.

  • An optometrist diagnoses and prescribes treatment

Optometrists on the other hand, are authorised to examine and diagnose vision conditions. They have the mandate to prescribe treatment by way of corrective lenses and eyeglasses. Each prescription marked out by the optometrist contains the corrective strength for the eyes. Optometrists earn a degree of Optometry which involves studies of at least 7 years – 4 years optometry and 3 years of college. They also have the medical background to detect vision abnormalities and prescribe treatment.

  • Working together

Depending on your eye issues, an optometrist can take care of correcting your vision while the optician makes sure you get the right refractive lenses or glasses. Both work together and complement each other.


There is also the ophthalmologist who has extensive medical knowledge and experience in diagnosing and treating vision issues. Ophthalmologists are licensed to perform eye surgeries on patients. Hence, when it comes to an overall picture of your health, there is no discussion whether you’ll see an optician vs. an optometrist. Take no chances on your eye health and have them checked out by the ophthalmologist at least once a year just to be on the safe side.

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