David Crystal MCOptom DipTP
Dorothy Crystal MCOptom Prof Cert Paediatric Eye Care
The term "opticians" is synonymous with the commercial activity of supplying glasses; "optometrists" pertain to those involved with the health aspect of eye care.
Optometrists examine and test eyes for disease, general health problems and defects in eyesight. In a clinical setting, they advise on corrective options, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, issue healthcare advice, monitor eye conditions and refer eye disorders that cannot be managed in a primary care (non hospital) setting to an ophthalmologist. In the UK optometrists are not called doctors as they are in the United States and Canada but optometrists with a higher post-graduate qualification in Ocular Therapeutics (DipTp) may treat eye conditions in primary care. Optometrists study at university for three years ( four in Scotland ) and then undergo a pre-registration year of supervised clinical practice prior to professional examinations. Registration with the General Optical Council then allows independent practice. Optometrists are NHS contracted but some of their work is outside the scope of the health service.
A dispensing optician is specially trained to advise on the technical aspects of spectactles lenses and take essential measurements to enable manufacture of glasses according to the prescription from an optometrist. They advise on style, shape and fit for purpose functionality also make sure the glasses fit correctly. With further training they can fit contact lenses.
Ophthalmologists are medically qualified doctors working in a hospital enviroment to treat eye disease. There are two types, medical and surgical. The surgeons concern themselves soley with surgical techiques and often may totally specialise either in anterior segment (front of the eye surgery) or retinal surgery. So you wouldn't want to consult an eminent retinal surgeon regarding blepharitis or a dry eye condition. Your optometrist's experience would guide you to the appropriate specialist. In the United Kingdom, there are only 2.3 ophthalmologists exist per 100,000 population in the UK – fewer pro rata than in any other nation in the European Union. Three Colleges grant postgraduate degrees in ophthalmology. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh grant MRCOphth/FRCOphth and MRCSEd/FRCSEd, the Royal College of Glasgow grants FRCS. Postgraduate work as a specialist registrar and one of these degrees is required for specialization in eye diseases. Such clinical work is within the NHS, with supplementary private work for some consultants.
Orthoptists work with ophthalmologists assessing squints, double vision and other abnormalities of binocular vision prior to treatment and are involved in monitoring the treatment’s success.
Optical Assistants are commonly employed typically by large optical chains these people are trained "in-house" to emulate the work of dispensing opticians. They might even "pre-test" your eyes and help you in choosing frames and fit your glasses.