Which Eye Doctor do you Need?

The human eye is a small but extremely intricate organ, constantly providing data to our brains to help us understand and navigate the world around us.

More research has been done on vision than on any other of our senses, as it is arguably the most important.

So how do we best care for our vision and eyesight?

Regular checkups by a trained professional are recommended, particularly when we consider that an estimated 13 million Australians have one or more chronic eye conditions (1).

However there is sometimes confusion over the type of health professional best suited to providing regular eye examinations. Do you need to see an optometrist, optician or ophthalmologist?

With all of these terms thought to arise from the Greek or Latin words for “eye” or “sight”, it can be difficult to discern which one you need to see (pardon the pun!).


If you have any eye or vision problems, an optometrist is usually your first port of call.

In Australia, an optometrist (also sometimes called an optician) has completed a four year university degree at a minimum, and is trained to:

  • examine your eyes for common diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts;
  • check for any vision or focusing disorders;
  • prescribe glasses or contact lenses where required.

An optometrist is often assisted by an optical dispenser – someone who is trained to interpret the optical prescriptions, and then supply and fit the appropriate glasses or contact lenses.

If the optometrist believes that you require further tests, treatment or surgery, then they will issue a referral to an ophthalmologist; and also co-manage patients with ophthalmologists.


An ophthalmologist is a qualified medical doctor who has completed additional studies to become an eye specialist.

After a dozen years of university study, an ophthalmologist is considered an expert in the diagnosis, management and treatment of eye diseases, injuries and disorders.

Because they are a qualified doctor, they can prescribe medication, administer eye injections and perform eye surgery such as:

  • Removing cataracts
  • Laser reshaping
  • Repairing a detached retina or other eye injuries
  • Excising cancer


If you spend a bit of time with an Ophthalmologist, you may come across another eye health professional starting with “O” – an Orthoptist. 

An orthoptist works under the ophthalmologist’s supervision and assists in doing some pre and post testing of patients

Which Eye Doctor is for You?

So, now we’ve opened your eyes to the different types of eye doctors, don’t put it off any longer! Most eye checkups at an optometrist are bulk billed, so call us today for an appointment on 3824 1878.



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