An optometrist is a doctor who is trained to examine and diagnose eye diseases, and to determine the need for corrective lenses, such as glasses and contacts. Optometrists frequently work collaboratively with ophthalmologists, providing preoperative and postoperative care for Lasik and cataract surgery.
To become an optometrist, a person must first complete an undergraduate degree and then attend a four year, doctorate level training at an accredited institution. According to the American Optometric Association, optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate level training specific to vision, eye health and conditions closely associated with the eyes. Graduates of accredited optometry programs possess a doctorate of optometry, or OD, degree. To practice in their field, optometrists must pass a rigorous, three-part examination conducted by the National Board of Examiners in Optometry.
Optometrists are licensed by the state to practice optometry. They frequently serve as primary eye care providers, making referrals to ophthalmologists when needed. The scope of services provided by optometrists varies by state; in some areas optometrists can prescribe certain medications while in other areas that capability is strictly in the domain of the ophthalmologists. An Optometrist may determine the need for eye surgery, refer the patient to an ophthalmologist who performs the surgical procedure, and then provide post-operative care to their client as needed.