Many Canadians know about the importance of regular eye exams and having proper eyewear. But not everyone is aware of the different roles that eye care professionals play to ensure their eyes remain healthy. In fact, the terms “optometrist,” “optician,” and “ophthalmologist’ often get confused or are used interchangeably.
With that in mind, we thought we'd help break down the differences between these three roles and show how these unique eye care professionals work together to help care for your eyes.
What is an Optometrist?
An optometrist is a primary eye care provider who can conduct eye exams, write prescriptions, and treat eye diseases.
Canadian optometrists require seven to eight years of training at a post-secondary institution before obtaining their professional designation as a Doctor of Optometry (also known as an OD). There are currently two schools of optometry in Canada: The University of Waterloo and the Université de Montréal. There are 20 additional optometry schools in the United States whose graduates are accredited to practice in Canada. Many optometrists also choose to do an extra year of residency (a type of internship) to specialize in a particular type of training or eye care field.
Here in Canada, optometrists are overseen by provincial/territorial boards that ensure all qualifications are up to date. National tests are also administered by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry to ensure that OD training meets the high level of care expected by Canadian patients.