Eye Info

What do the initials after your eye care profesional's name mean?


Ophthalmologist (MD or DO):  An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor whose training includes: bachelor degree, 4 years of medical school, a 1-year internship, and a 3-4 year residency program. Many doctors continue their education with a 1-2 year fellowship that concentrates on a particular subspecialty such as glaucoma or retinal disease. Ophthalmologists are trained to diagnose and treat eye diseases and conditions with medications and surgery.  

Optometrist (OD): An optometrist has acquired a bachelor's degree, and completed 4 years of additional education at an accredited school of optometry. Optometrists specialize in prescribing and fitting glasses and contact lenses as well as the detection and diagnosis of eye diseases.  Optometrists often work with ophthalmologists to manage diseases and to care for patients following eye surgery.

Ocularist: An ocularist is specially trained to fit prosthetic (artificial) eyes after surgery or to cover disfigurements. Ocularists must complete a 5 year apprentice program and pass a board examination for certification.

Orthoptist (CO): Orthoptists specialize in evaluating the visual system and muscle function, especially with infants, children, and young people. They work along with optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide non-surgical treatments to correct muscle imbalances and associated eye problems. An orthoptist must complete 2 years of specialized training as well as a board examination.  

Optician (ABOC - American Board of Opticianry Certified and NCLC - Certified National Contact Lens Examiner): An optician is specially trained to make and fit eyeglasses. Opticians require 2 years of training prior to sitting for a board examination. Some opticians also become certified in contact lens fitting.

Allied health personnel (COA, COT, COMT): Ophthalmic medical personnel assist the physician in the diagnosis of conditions, treatment of disease and injury, and care of patients. The Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel grants certification at three difference levels after passing a board examination and skill test: certified ophthalmic assistant (COA), certified ophthalmic technician (COT), and certified ophthalmic medical technologist (COMT). Each level of certification requires additional education, skill and experience over the previous level.  

Certified Ophthalmic Retinal Photographer (CRA): Certified ophthalmic photographers specialize in photography of the eye used for diagnosis and documentation. Individuals may become certified by sitting for a board examination and passing a skill evaluation. 

Ophthalmic Registered Nurse (ORN): An ophthalmic registered nurse has received special training and certification ophthalmology in addition to his or her nursing education of 2-4 years.

Tampa Bay Eyecare Network provides this on-line information for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice.  Information published on this website is not intended to replace, supplant, or augment a consultation with an eye care professional regarding the viewer/user's own medical care.  Tampa Bay Eyecare Network disclaims any and all liability for injury or other damages that could result from use of the information obtained from this site.

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