Oculist and Ophthalmologist: Concepts, Importance and Differences

The distinction between these terms is essential for those who are one or the other and people who have eye problems.

When we talk about eye doctors and ophthalmologists, we refer to health workers involved in eye care, from one with a small amount of post-secondary training to professionals with a doctoral level of education.

They hold the degree of doctor of medicine specializing in diseases and disorders of the eye.

But now … Is the optician the same as an ophthalmologist? The answer is usually the same for the public: The ophthalmologist is the eye specialist, and the Oculist is in charge of prescribing the lenses. DO NOT! Wrong answer.

The optician

The Oculist is an old term used primarily to describe vision professionals trained and specialized in eye care, specifically ophthalmologists and optometrists. The term is not used much anymore.

However, people who lived in previous centuries who had trouble seeing traffic signs, reading small print, or suddenly had horrible pain in their eyes, would have visited an eye doctor. This was a doctor who dealt with eye disorders.

The Oculist is an outdated and outdated term; the word óculos is Latin for “Ojo.” The most popular names for this doctor are the ophthalmologist and the optometrist.


Ophthalmologists deal with more severe problems and diseases. Optometrists tackle less severe problems, perform vision tests and prescribe corrective lenses.

The Ophthalmologist

It comes from the Greek word ὀφθαλμός (ophthalmos, “eye”) and -λoγία (-logía, “Estudio”), “the study of the eyes.” The people dedicated to ophthalmology are called ophthalmologists.

Ophthalmologists are doctors who specialize in the care of the eyes and vision, studying eye diseases and their treatment, including the eyeball, its muscles, the tear system, and the eyelids.

An ophthalmologist can perform the same tests as an optometrist and is a qualified medical surgeon; training and additional knowledge prepare him to care for more complex or specific conditions in certain eye areas or patients.

Many ophthalmologists who have completed university and have high levels of training, in addition to providing comprehensive ophthalmological care, also specialize in a specific area of ​​ophthalmological, optical, medical, or surgical care.

All this is to be able to practice, diagnose and treat highly complex diseases of vision, perform eye surgeries and prescribe and place glasses and contact lenses to correct vision problems.

Many are also involved in scientific research on the causes and treatment of eye diseases and vision disorders.

Ophthalmologists are trained to treat all ocular problems and conditions; subspecialists can treat glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatric ophthalmology, plastic surgery, laser vision correction, uveitis, pathology, or neuro-ophthalmology, among others.

When should you see an ophthalmologist?

It is essential to treat our eyes carefully throughout our lives. Ignoring changes in vision or omitting eye exams puts our most precious faculty at risk.

The Ophthalmological Society recommends going to an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes.
  • Vision changes include sudden points, flashes of light, rays or irregular lines of light, wavy or watery vision, blurred faces, distortions or wavy lines, haloes around the lights, and double vision.
  • Changes in the field of vision include shadows, loss of vision similar to a curtain, and black or blurred spots in the central or peripheral (lateral) vision.
  • Physical changes in the eye include crossed eyes, eyes that turn inward, outward, upward, or downward, pain, and signs of infection (redness, swelling, discharge, etc.).
  • Changes in color vision.

How often should the eyes be examined?

It is essential to examine your eyes periodically and provide a family history of eye disease.

An initial eye examination at six months of age helps detect vision problems that can contribute to developmental delays, educational setbacks, and behavior problems in children who have difficulty seeing correctly.

Healthy adults who do not notice anything wrong with their eyes should consult an ophthalmologist at the following frequency and ages:

  • From 19 to 40 years old: at least every ten years.
  • From 41 to 55 years old: at least every five years.
  • Age from 56 to 65 years old: at least every three years.
  • Over 65 years old: at least every two years.

Is the Oculist the same as an Ophthalmologist?

In essence, since they are synonymous words; simply that we used them in different instances of time, one older (Oculist) and the other more updated (Ophthalmologist).

However, at the end of everything, we used to refer to those doctors responsible for everything related to the eyes … diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases.