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Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

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What’s the difference between types of eye doctors?

There are many reasons to visit an eye doctor. You may be having trouble seeing, you may have reached age 40 and want to get an annual eye health exam, or maybe you just want to update your look with a new pair of glasses? However, even when you’re certain of your reason for scheduling a visit to an eye care clinic, you may be uncertain about which type of eye doctor you need. Should you visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist?

Our optometrists in Conroe and The Woodlands, Texas, help to clarify the differences between these two types of eye doctors, as well as give an explanation of the services they provide.

How does someone qualify as an ophthalmologist?

Ophthalmologists study in medical school for four years and then complete a four-year residency. Afterwards, many ophthalmologists continue their education with a one or two-year fellowship to specialize in a particular area, such as pediatrics, retinal disease, or glaucoma. You can identify an ophthalmologist by the MD (Medical Doctor) after their name.

How does someone qualify as an optometrist?

Optometrists study in optometry school for four years and may continue for an extra year of residency to specialize in treatments such as myopia control or vision therapy. They have an OD (Doctor of Optometry) after their name.

What are the primary differences between eye care services provided by an optometrist and ophthalmologist?

Both optometrists and ophthalmologists can prescribe medicines, issue vision prescriptions, and diagnose and treat ocular diseases. However, a major difference is whether the eye doctor performs surgery or not. Optometrists can provide expert eye care services for nearly all the medical parts of ophthalmology, but they do not perform surgery. While optometrists are licensed to provide pre and postoperative care for eye surgery, ophthalmologists are also eye surgeons.

Which type of eye doctor should I visit?

That depends on what you need! For a comprehensive eye exam, both types of eye doctors are professionally qualified to do the job. If you need a new vision prescription, both types of eye doctors are also trained to test vision and prescribe glasses or contact lenses. As for the rest of the eye care services you may require, the most appropriate eye doctor can vary. For example:

  • Fittings for specialty contact lenses should generally be done by an optometrist. Optometrists often have specialized training in hard-to-fit contact lens fittings.
  • Laser surgeries, such as LASIK or PRK, cataract removal, and other surgical procedures are done by an ophthalmologist.
  • Eye disease in serious condition (not the early stage), such as severe diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration often requires medical care by an ophthalmologist, but screening and early-stage ocular disease management are carried out by optometrists.
  • Eye problems, such as blurred vision, floaters, or eye pain can be treated well by either type of eye doctor. If your optometrist diagnoses a complex medical condition, such as medically unmanageable glaucoma or serious retinal problems, he or she will direct you towards the most suitable ophthalmologist to provide treatment.
  • Vision therapy is generally provided by an optometrist.
  • Myopia control is an area of eye care handled by optometrists.

If you’re not sure which type of eye doctor you need, contact Eye Trends and ask! Our optometrists offer eye exams and a wide range of eye care services in Conroe and The Woodlands, Texas.

At Eye Trends, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 936-206-7366 or book an appointment online to see one of our Conroe eye doctors.

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Dr. Inns is a 1982 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilfred Laurier University, Canada. During his training at the University of Houston, he held positions in research and was a teaching assistant / laboratory instructor.

Postgraduate work includes therapeutic courses at Pennsylvania College of Optometry and the Optometric Glaucoma Specialist Course at the University of Texas Medical School. Dr. Inns has published in Optometry Today and Optometric Management. He also volunteers at the schools in his area.

Dr. Inns and his wife, Lynn, spend much of their spare time calling and visiting with their four boys.

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Amber Draper, Manager

As the manager of The Woodlands office, Amber Draper leads the team with the focus on patient care and assisting with their ophthalmic needs. Having over 10 years experience, Amber can aid patients with the most appropriate lens technology to match their daily needs. Everyone needs at least one pair of sun wear, especially here in Texas.

Amber is a proud graduate of Sam Houston State University with a BA in History, and a minor in Spanish.

In her spare time, she is with family, friends, and enjoying some Houston Texans Football.

Dr. Toups is a 1984 graduate of the University of Houston College of Optometry. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from Northeast Louisiana University.

Being a therapeutically licensed optometrist, Dr. Toups is trained to diagnose and treat ocular conditions. He specializes in contact lenses and he is current with all refractive surgery procedures.

Dr. Toups is married, has five children and has lived in the Houston area since 1980.

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