Blog Hero

Optician, Optometrist, Ophthalmologist…What’s the Difference? in Medicine Hat

Book Appointment

There are three types of eye care professionals and they all start with the letter “O”. Aside from causing confusion at times, it also frequently prompts the question: “What’s the difference?”  Here are some of the differences between the three professionals.


Total schooling: 2 years

An optician is not an eye doctor, but they are an important part of the eye care team. They use prescriptions written by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist to fit and sell glasses. Our opticians have undergone 2 years of specialized training before becoming a registered opticians. Although they cannot write glasses or contact lens prescriptions, they are experts at fitting, adjusting and repairing glasses. Our opticians are the best people to talk to about differences in frame and lens materials, lens coatings and different types of lens design.


Total schooling: 13 years

An ophthalmologist is an eye doctor who completes medical school first and then goes on to specialize in eye care. Ophthalmologists perform eye surgeries and manage difficult eye diseases.  Within ophthalmology, there are also subspecialties such as retinal surgeons, cataract and LASIK surgeons, cosmetic surgeons and so forth. All ophthalmologists can write glasses and contact lens prescriptions.  However, because of their expertise in specific areas, they often choose not to determine glasses prescriptions in order to dedicate more time to the medical eye care of their patients.


Total Schooling: 8 years

An optometrist is the community’s primary eye care provider. We are eye doctors who obtain a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists not only prescribe glasses and contacts, but we also diagnose and manage eye diseases and infections. Optometrists work closely with both opticians and ophthalmologists to give patients the best eye care possible. If you are having trouble seeing, if you have visual or medical concerns about your eyes, or if you are interested in any type of eye surgery, call our doctors of optometry.

Written by Dr. Clark Hyde

Dr. Clark Hyde graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 2011. While in optometry school, he completed clinical externships in both Michigan and Utah, focusing on pediatrics and ocular disease.

More Articles By Dr. Clark Hyde

20/20 News

Dry Eyes?
We Can Help!

Same Day

The Truth About
Blue Light

What to expect during Cataract Surgery

20/20 Advantage
Contact Lens Promo

Our Family

At 20/20 Vision Care, we provide comprehensive vision care services, including eye exams, contact lens exams, dry eye therapy, and a wide selection of frames and lenses.

Designed specifically to best manage eye-related health concerns and disease. We also handle urgent eye care matters like foreign bodies, infections, and trauma.

20/20 Mobile Care

Your children undergo crucial visual development at a young age, and we want to be a part of this journey. We offer children’s eye exams and myopia management to help your children thrive.

We understand that not everyone can make it into our office, so we offer mobile services for those that are homebound, and service the senior homes in our area as well.

20/29 Vision Care Kids

Our Locations

20/20 Vision Care

Find us just down from the Dairy Queen in the heart of downtown on 3rd Street, across from the CORE Association.

  • 431 3rd St. SE
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta
Book Appointment

20/20 Urgent Care & 20/20 Kids

Located directly behind our 3rd Street Building, just down from the Fifth Avenue Memorial Church.

  • 444 4th St. SE
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta
Book Appointment
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax