Do you know your eye care professionals?

Do you know your eye care professionals? Here are the different types and when you'll need them -

Eye health is important for everyone to stay on top of. Luckily there are plenty of different professionals to help

The main three eye care professionals are opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. There are also ophthalmic registered nurses, ophthalmic medical assistants, ophthalmic technicians and contact lens opticians, and these people typically work in hospital settings. 


Opticians, or dispensing opticians, are typically the people you will see once you have had an eye test and are getting your glasses.

Opticians have specialised training to read prescriptions and fit and dispense your glasses or contact lenses to the correct specifications. They will be able to give you the correct advice about wearing and taking care of your glasses or contact lenses.

All dispensing opticians in the UK are required to complete a course approved by the General Optical Council. Opticians also must pass the professional qualifying exams set by the Association of British Dispensing Opticians.


Optometrists are the people qualified to perform your eye test. By using equipment such as a tonometer and phoropter they can detect any issues with your eyes. Due to the nature of their training, optometrists are not trained in any medical capacity, but they can detect things such as diabetes, certain cancers and high blood pressure as these can present symptoms in the eyes.

Optometrists have to jump through a lot of hoops to become qualified. First, a BSc Hons in Optometry must be obtained. To be eligible for this degree, it is expected that you get high grades at A Levels and have studied at least two science subjects.

After graduating, an optometrist will do a supervised placement for a year with a registered optometrist before passing the Scheme for Registration.


Many people do not encounter ophthalmologists often. These are specialist physicians who focus on the function, structure and diseases of the eye. As well as working in medicine, ophthalmologists also perform surgery when required.

Ophthalmologists can work in several different environments. Generally, they work in outpatient clinics or community clinics. When working in hospitals, ophthalmologists consult with a raft of other people to offer top-tier eye care, such as ocular prosthetists, doctors and orthoptists.

Ophthalmologists study for many years to become qualified. After completing medical school, they do two extra years of medical training called the MSC Foundation Programme, during which they will register with the General Medical Council. Following this registration, budding ophthalmologists will study for a further seven years whilst passing qualifications set by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

The importance of staying on top of your eye health

Looking after your health is important, and your eyes are no exception. Sight loss can be preventable so getting eye tests done every two years is key to helping identify issues.

Keeping your eyes healthy between visits is fairly simple too. Smoking can impact your eyes so stopping smoking would be beneficial for all aspects of your health. Another step you can take is to protect your eyes in bright sunlight by wearing sunglasses and avoiding looking at the sun.

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