Northeast Wisconsin Retina Associates


There are a variety of eye care providers who may be involved in your management. This frequently leads to some degree of confusion for patients and their family members. Most patients have a primary eye care provider – either an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

An optometrist has a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree and is licensed to practice optometry (not medicine). Traditionally, an optometrist attends college and subsequently four years in an optometric college. Optometrists examine the eye for the purpose of prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, screen vision to detect certain eye abnormalities and prescribe medications for some eye diseases.

An ophthalmologist is a medical or osteopathic doctor (MD or DO). Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and management of all forms of eye disease. Most ophthalmologists concentrate on cataract surgery, refractive surgery (such as LASIK), management of glaucoma and treatment of corneal disorders in addition to routine primary eye care.

In comparison with the general healthcare team, the role of the general ophthalmologist might be considered analogous to that of the primary care physician, whereas the optometrist’s role may be similar to the physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.