Terminology to Better Connect with Your Ophthalmologist

All professions have their own jargon, and ophthalmology is no exception. So if you want to make the most out of your visit to the ophthalmologist — and if you want to know more about proper care for your eye health — then you need to familiarize yourself with some basic terms, starting with the differences among ophthalmologist, optometrist, and optician.


retinal imaging equipment

Ophthalmologist, optometrist and optician use a variety of equipment that range from simple charts to retinal imaging.


Many people mix up these terms, so let’s clear them up now once and for all:


  • Ophthalmologists are medically qualified specialists of full-spectrum and comprehensive eye care. As the most highly-trained out of all eye care specialists, they can handle everything from prescribing corrective glasses to performing delicate surgeries.
  • Optometrists are primary level eye care providers who perform eye exams and prescribe eye wear.
  • Opticians are technicians trained to fit frames, lenses, and contacts on patients who need their eyesight corrected. However, take note that there are two kinds of opticians: the dispensing opticians who provide contacts and glasses, and ophthalmic opticians who perform eye exams and prescribe eye wear.


From these definitions, you can see that opticians and optometrists handle eyesight problems that can be corrected by eye wear, while ophthalmologists are more focused on treating infections, diseases, and other conditions that threaten eye health.


You might also want to learn about common eye problems. Knowing what these are will not only help you communicate better with your ophthalmologist, but will also alert you to early signs and symptoms:


  • Cataract: the progressive clouding of the lens of the eye as a result of aging, leading to blurred vision
  • Conjunctivitis (aka pink eye): inflammation of the conjunctiva, the tissue lining the inside of the eyelid that helps keep the eyeball moist
  • Diabetic retinopathy: a condition caused by abnormally high sugar levels in someone with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, resulting in the damage of retinal blood vessels and of the retina itself
  • Glaucoma: a growing pressure in the eyeball, resulting in optic nerve damage which causes vision loss.


There are many other terms worth knowing before heading out for an eye exam, so check out our Glossary of Technical Terms for your reference. And of course, don’t forget to learn more about optomap, that can help identify pathologies that can’t be found with a standard DFE.


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Image Source: Optos