What is the Difference Between an Optometrist and an Optician?

Most people confuse the function of an optician with that of an optometrist. It is essential to know that they are two different professionals with different responsibilities. We shall carefully differentiate between these two professions.


To start with, an optometrist is a healthcare professional who provides a wide range of services that are targeted at improving or maintaining vision. An optometrist gets a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after his or her completion of optometry school.

The areas of specialization of an optometrist include vision testing, performing eye exams, prescription and dispensation of corrective lenses, prescription of medication for specific eye diseases, and diagnosis of certain eye abnormalities.

Major Job responsibilities include;

  • Provision of pre and post-operative care for anyone undergoing eye surgery
  • Performance of minor surgical treatment
  • Counseling of patients about eye health
  • Provision of treatment such as low-vision rehabilitation
  • Writing of prescription for eyeglasses
  • Referring patients to a specialist if there is a need.


An optician is a technician who has been trained to verify, fit, and design eyeglass lenses, contact lenses, eyeglass frames, and other devices that correct eyesight. An optician makes use of prescriptions given by an optometrist or opthalmologist but does not prescribe visual correction or test vision. An optician is not licensed to diagnose or treat any eye disease.

Major Job responsibilities include the following:

  • Recommendation of eyewear such as goggles, computer glasses, and sunglasses
  • Maintenance and stocking of inventory
  • Keeping of records especially financial transactions records
  • Education and enlightenment of customers on how to take proper care of their optical devices
  • Making of work orders for an ophthalmic laboratory technician.

Differences between an optometrist and an optician


To become an optician, you need a secondary school certificate and on-the-job training. Alternatively, you can get an associate certificate or degree.

An optometrist, on the other hand, is mandated to undergo an undergraduate program from a recognized college. Afterward, the person has to complete a Doctor of Optometry (OD) program before passing through the state board to get licensed. An optometrist can also undergo a one-year residency program.

Responsibilities and duties

Optician major roles are to fill the prescription of eyeglasses and fit them properly. Their duties include measurement of a person’s face and assisting them to select spectacles. An optician also adjusts and repairs frames. Most times, skills of opticians are learned while you are practicing it, although going to a technical school or community college can be of great benefit and training.

The major roles of an optometrist include testing of vision and examination of eyes. In a situation where there is an issue, an optometrist has the responsibility of determining if there are needs for corrective lenses or treatment or to be referred to a specialist.

Work environment

As an optician, you can work for department stores, independent businesses, and optometrist offices. An optometrist can work in optical goods stores, doctors’ offices, or be self-employed.

Overall, it should be noted that the job descriptions, responsibilities, and qualifications of an optometrist are not the same as that of an optician.