Who’s who in the ophthalmic zoo!

If you are new to the world of eye health, or eye care, understanding who’s who in the zoo can be a little bit daunting! 

Many of the words, terms, and professional roles you may hear or see written down as you move through your ophthalmic journey can be similar sounding and a little overwhelming!  

However, it is helpful to understand them as each play a pivotal role in ophthalmic care and for different purposes. However, each contribute to make up a diverse and detailed field of expertise, all adding up to the whole to ensure optimal vision and ocular health. 

In this blog we will try to describe in simple terms what each of these professionals do, and why and when you might need them! 

Let’s start with optical dispensers! These are specialised eyecare professionals who assist individuals in selecting and fitting spectacles (glasses) and contact lenses. Working alongside optometrists and ophthalmologists, optical dispensers help customers choose frames that suit their style and facial features, ensuring precise measurements for comfortable and effective vision correction. Their expertise extends to advising on various lens options, coatings, and materials. Additionally, optical dispensers may provide guidance on contact lenses, including fitting and care. These professionals contribute to an optimal eyecare experience, promoting eye health and delivering eyewear that aligns with individual preferences and visual needs. Most often found in retail optometrist practices or locations that sell visual hardware, they can make all the difference to feeling both stylish and comfortable!  

Next up are ophthalmic technicians who are the meticulous and technologically savvy individuals resembling the engineers of the eye world. These skilled technicians are the backbone of eye diagnostics, trained to operate specialised ophthalmic equipment and that take the measurements and scans of your eyes. They possess an intimate knowledge of these high-tech tools, using them to gather precise measurements and essential data about the eye’s structure and health – essentially mapping your eye. Their proficiency ensures the accuracy of diagnostic tests, providing valuable information for the broader ophthalmic team so individual and unique treatment plans can be built. 

Let’s move on to orthoptists, vigilant observers and specialists in eye movement and binocular vision. They assist both optometrists and ophthalmologists in diagnosing and treating a range of eye movement disorders. Their expertise includes evaluating and managing conditions such as strabismus (misaligned eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye), employing specialised exercises and therapies to enhance visual coordination and clarity. 

Now let’s introduce the diligent caretakers of ocular health and often your first point of contact for ocular health, clinical optometrists. They are the primary support for ophthalmologists, specialising in pre and post-operative care for patients. Conducting comprehensive eye examinations and vision tests. They have in-depth knowledge to detect various abnormalities, ocular diseases, and even systemic conditions with ocular manifestations. Clinical optometrists do more than just identify eye conditions, they will also prescribe corrective lenses, optical aids, therapies, and medications, to rectify and manage a range of vision problems and eye diseases. If they observe that specialist care or treatment is needed, they will refer their patient to an ophthalmologist that has the relevant subspeciality. 

And lastly, please meet the ophthalmologists. These are eye doctors and eye surgeons of the ophthalmic world. It is to these professionals that optometrists refer their patients for specialised care. They are trained as medical doctors with specialised expertise in ocular conditions and able to provide advice to patients through consultation and, if required, then treat them with surgical intervention. Ophthalmologists have the advanced training for in-depth diagnosis and surgical treatment of a wide variety of ailments including cataracts, glaucoma, retinal disorders, corneal conditions, refractive treatments, and other procedures. With their surgical finesse and medical acumen, they are able to perform intricate procedures, operating with fine precision. As a part of their training, they will often focus on a certain area (or areas) of ophthalmic health and gain expertise in the treatment of these issues.  

 So in summary although many of these words sound similar, the role each professional plays in the eye health world is different. However, together they collaborate, all bringing a unique skill set and contributing to the world of eye care that prioritises the wellbeing of patient eye care. Whether it’s the ophthalmic technicians to ensure accurate collection of diagnostic data, the orthoptists that focus on enhancing eye coordination, clinical optometrists as a first step for comprehensive eye care, or ophthalmologists for those patients that need specialist treatment and/or management, or surgical care, together they ensure optimal eye health for all.  

With the exception of optical dispensers, the Adelaide Eye & Laser Centre team includes each of these professionals within its ophthalmic team.  In addition, we work with a valued community and network of independent optometrists. We ensure that each patient that is referred into our care has the benefit of the very best diagnostic resources and equipment, and expert professional advice, allowing each to achieve optimal visual acuity.  

For more information on our team please visit the Key Staff page on our website linked here.

To meet our ophthalmologists click here. Or to make an appointment please do not hesitate to click here and one of our friendly customer service staff with be in contact. 


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