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What is the difference between an optician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist?

The optician dispenses eyeglasses and contact lenses and may also make eyeglasses and other optical instruments. An optician sometimes also tests the eyes and provides a prescription. An optometrist is a specialist in examining and measuring the refractive power of the eyes. An optometrist prescribes corrective lenses and exercises. An ophthalmologist (watch the spelling ph and th!) is an eye specialist who can prescribe drugs or perform surgery. An ophthalmologist has an M.D. (doctor of medicine), an optometrist an O.D. (doctor of optometry), and an optician a license to examine eyes and prescribe treatment. The term oculist is rather dated but is somewhat of a catchall for a doctor of medicine who can examine and treat eyes, including performing surgery. The beginning of each of these words is based on Latin opti- and oculus and Greek ophthalmos, meaning eye.

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