Patients are often unclear as to what type of specialist they are seeing or what kind they need to see. What is the difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, and a retina specialist? Many patients see optometrists for their primary eye care. Optometrist are trained at optometry school where they learn in general eye care and the prescribing of glasses and contacts. Many provide post operative care for cataract surgery patients.
Cataract surgery is done by ophthalmologists who have completed medical school and are “MD’s”. After medical school they have completed a minimum of a one year internship and then a three year residency in ophthalmology where they are trained in surgery.
The field of eye care has become so complex that there are subspecialist for many aspects of eye care. Retina specialists are ophthalmologists who have trained for an extra two years in this field. Retina specialists do not usually prescribe glasses nor do routine cataract surgery.
If you have a retinal condition you can ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist to refer you to a retina specialist or in many retinal practices you may call directly.