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Optometrists and ophthalmologists

When it comes to health professionals who look after your eyes, there are different specialists who may see you.

Optometrists. In the high street, the person you may think of as an optician or ophthalmic optician who you go to for eye tests and glasses is more accurately called an optometrist.

Like your GP for general health, optometrists are on the front line of eye health care, called primary care.

If you need vision corrected, they can write a prescription for glasses or contact lenses, and also sell or dispense glasses and contacts.

As well as checking the eyes for vision problems, they may also report back to your GP about conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure related to an eye examination.

If other vision problems are found, such as glaucoma, they may arrange a referral to other eye specialists for further assessment and treatment.

You can usually pick any optometrist you like for your routine eye tests and care. If you're looking for an optometrist, ask friends and family for recommendations.

Other eye specialists who may be involved in your eye care include:

Dispensing opticians. These professionals are specially trained to recommend glasses, lenses and frames based on individual needs, jobs or lifestyle. They may also have extra training to supply contact lenses.

Ophthalmologists. These are medically qualified specialists in eye conditions, their treatment and eye surgery. They are usually based in a hospital's eye department or special eye hospital and will treat eye problems such as cataracts and carry out laser eye surgery and other procedures.

Ophthalmic medical practitioners (OMPs). These are ophthalmologists who check the eyes and vision, look for eye problems and can prescribe lenses to correct vision.

Orthoptists. These eye experts usually work alongside ophthalmologists and specialise in problems with eye movements and the eyes working together, such as squinting, lazy eye and double vision.

All health professionals looking after your vision need to be registered with professional bodies that oversee training and standards.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 21, 2016

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