- Optometry/Ophthalmology Revisited
- so i'm cruising yahoo answers and i find this question:
"My eye has been red for a week. Should I see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?Not sure what the difference is between the two types of doctors."
a valid and common question! there is quite a bit of confusion on the matter, perpetuated by the AMA and their propaganda. so then i scroll down & read the "answers" so far:
"Ophthalmologist. Pretty much all an optometrist is qualified to to do is figure out your prescription, whereas an ophthalmologist is an actual medical doctor who can also diagnose various eye conditions and problems. been seeing an ophthalmologist most of my life for my prescription so I can also make sure I'm not developing glaucoma or cataracts."
okay, pretty misguided and uninformed, but not overly offensive. incorrectly implies that optometrists arent doctors, and limits optometrists to non-medical eye care, neither of which are true. then there's THIS gem:
"You should at once consult with an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a M.B.B.S doctor having studied so many years everything of human life whereas an optometrist is a technical person having studied only optics of an eye with some basic things of ophthalmology. Actually he is an assistant to an ophthalmologist."
wow where to start on this one? the big no-no is calling me a "tech" and an ophthalmologist's "assistant". um, i'm pretty sure i wouldnt have the word "doctor" in front of my name if i was merely some tech or assistant. just a grossly misinformed/uninformed person & statement. i'm no more "tech" or "assistant" to an ophthalmologist than a general practitioner is a "tech" or "assistant" to an internist. optometry is a doctorate profession. just ask my wife who writes the check for my student loan payments every month. 100k debt =/= "tech". sorry, buddy. i guess if a person never attended optometry school they might not intrinsically know this, but FYI we studied anatomy & physiology in optometry school INTENSELY. we had a cadaver and everything (our group's cadaver was named "Jamie", pronounced "hi-mey"). we most certainly did not study "only optics". what a maroon.
there were other answers including one guy who actually suggested that smoking pot would cure the red eye in question. riiiiiiight. but the gist is this: people dont understand the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist. its not all that confusing, but like i said before the AMA and organized ophthalmology see optometry as a threat and continually perpetuate these misconceptions about their perceived inferiority of optometrists.
a few common misconceptions that both ophthalmologists and lay people think/say:
1) optometrists only do glasses & contacts while ophthalmologists are the "eye specialists": FALSE. ophthalmologists are surgeons. if you need surgery then by all means go to an ophthalmologist. but optometrists routinely diagnose & manage/treat eye disease. i do it all day, every day
2) optometrists can't prescribe medicine: FALSE. again i prescribe all kinds of stuff all the time. i even have a DEA # and occiasionally have to Rx "controled substances".
3) optometrists are not "properly trained": FALSE. by whose definition? the AMA's? yeah they're not biased at all [/sarcasm]. i contend that i am very much "properly trained". i have a doctorate...in eyes. how much more training do you want me to have before you consider me "properly trained" to treat your eyes/vision?
4) optometry school is only 2 years: NOPE. 4 years. and usually a residency on top. perhaps this false rumor is perpetuated by this statement (from the AMA website) "Optometrists attend two to four years of college and four years of optometric college." what?? 2 years of college? um, no. that statement is completely and totally false. thats a flat out lie.
5) optometrists are the ophthalmologist's assistant: THANK THE LORD IN HEAVEN this is completely untrue. LORD willing i hope i never, ever have to work for a surgeon. i'll avoid it like the plague. i'm not a surgeon, and i dont wanna be. and i dont wanna work for one, either. it is true that there are optometrists in the world who work for/with ophthalmologists, but they are not the ophthalmologist's "assistant". thats completely false.
basically its like this:
ophthalmologist = surgeon
optometrist = EVERYTHING ELSE: glasses, contacts, red eye, any eye pain, strain, blur, flashes, floaters, itch, twitch, foreign body or any other eye problem of any kind humanly imaginable & conceivable that not a surgical case. any other definition of optometry is just flat out wrong.