Eye care specialist
What is the difference between an optician and an optometrist? What does the orthoptist do and when do you go to an ophthalmologist? We explain it here. Take care of your eyes and have them properly cared for by an expert. Always inquire whether the person who is examining or advising you has the appropriate training.
An optician specializes in doing eye exams and fitting eyeglasses. He/she also has the knowledge and equipment to determine if further examination is needed by an optometrist, orthoptist or ophthalmologist, for example. The optician’s profession is very diverse: advice and sales regarding frames and lenses, repairing frames and grinding lenses, cleaning lenses, adjusting glasses and administrative work are all part of the optician’s job.
In the Netherlands, to become a qualified optician you follow a four-year senior secondary vocational education (MBO level 4). Unfortunately, the profession of optician is not regulated by the government in the Netherlands, so anyone can also call themselves an optician without a diploma. That said, it is important for an optician to have recognized professional training.
Contact lens specialist
A contact lens specialist is an optician who specializes in contact lenses. He/she advises you which type of contact lens suits you best, checks the health of your eye and tear film, fits the contact lenses, teaches you how to use them (inserting and removing them, cleaning them) and also performs your periodic lens check. In addition to the four-year senior secondary vocational education (MBO) and two-years of post-MBO specialization, a contact lens specialist is continuously learning and takes regular refresher courses to stay up to date on the latest developments in the contact lens field.
An optometrist examines whether the eye is healthy. If you experience eye problems, have diminished vision, or if eye conditions such as glaucoma run in your family, an optometrist can perform further testing. The optometrist is able to identify problems in a timely manner through eye exams. Optometrists are commonly found in optician’s shops, hospitals, eye care centers or private practices. An optometrist may give you a referral to your primary care physician, orthoptist or ophthalmologist. To become an optometrist, you have to complete a four-year higher professional education degree (HBO).
With the creation of the Integrated Eye Care Plan in 2013, it was agreed with the Dutch Association of Orthoptists and the Dutch Ophthalmological Society that optometrists can examine children as young as 8 years old. So on the day the child is 8 years old, he/she may go to the optometrist.
Orthoptics is the doctrine of seeing right (“orthos” is Greek for right and “opsis” for seeing). This eye care specialist specializes in squinting, double vision and lazy eye, among other things. The orthoptist also deals with neurological eye problems. This includes headaches and reading problems caused by the cooperation of the eyes or symptoms after a heart attack.
Children up to the age of 12 are often referred to the orthoptist for vision screening. You will find the orthoptist mostly in the hospital in the Department of Ophthalmology, in an eye clinic and sometimes in private practice. Orthoptists have completed a four-year higher professional education degree (HBO).
An ophthalmologist is concerned with examining and treating patients with abnormalities of the eye. The ophthalmologist also conducts scientific research. Patients with cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or an eye tumor are monitored and treated by the ophthalmologist. You can also often see the ophthalmologist if an inherited eye disease runs in your family.
Some eye diseases can be treated by the ophthalmologist with eye drops or special injections. Other conditions, such as retinal detachment or cataracts, require surgery performed by the ophthalmologist. Almost all ophthalmologists work in a hospital or treatment center for eye diseases. To become an ophthalmologist, you study medicine at university and then specialize in medical and surgical ophthalmology. In total, training to become an ophthalmologist takes 12 years.
Ophthalmologists may prescribe atropine drops for children with progressive myopia as (a part of) myopia management therapy. Want to know more about progressive myopia in children and its treatment? Read more here.
Myopia Management Expert
The Myopia Management Expert does everything possible to manage progressive myopia (= nearsightedness). Myopia management is aimed at adolescents and children. This is because the greatest exacerbation of myopia usually occurs between the ages of 6 and 17. This is the most important age group to intervene in order to prevent or minimize eye health problems later in life. The Myopia Management Expert identifies your child’s risk of becoming nearsighted. Is your child already nearsighted? Then there are several myopia management therapies to choose from, such as lifestyle counseling, atropine eye drops (prescribed by the ophthalmologist) or special contact lenses. Click here for more information on these special contact lenses. If this proves necessary, the Myopia Management Expert compiles a customized treatment plan – in consultation with other practitioners, if needed. This is to stop the exacerbation of myopia as much as possible. Which option is the best fit is always considered on a person-by-person basis by the specialist(s).
Myopia Management Expert is not an official degree or title, but a recognition indicating that your eye care specialist has studied and specialized in this topic by attending our training and successfully taking the test through the CooperVision SEC Academy.
1 Morgan P. Is Myopia Control the Next Contact Lens Revolution? The Optician 2016.